ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida’s pollen season has kicked into high gear this year, with the return of spring-like temperatures.
As temperatures begin to rise, so does our pollen count, with oak, juniper and alder being our biggest pollen producers between February and April.
But a recent study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the rising global temperatures could be lengthening the time when pollen is released by plants, trees and grasses.
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They figured this out by testing eight annual and seasonal climate factors, including temperatures, precipitation, frost days and atmospheric CO2 concentrations. They found that the mean annual temperature was the strongest predictor in pollen count.
This then would mean temperatures strongly influence not only the length of pollen season, but also its intensity. Studying their 60 pollen reporting stations across the country, the pollen season has become 20 days longer compared to what it was 1990. The season is also becoming more intense, with significantly larger concentration of pollen being picked up in the air.
Because pollen concentrations are highly sensitive to temperature and carbon dioxide, this study found that human-caused climate change was responsible for at least half of the additional days of pollen season.
These findings concern doctors, as these drastic changes to our pollen season across the country could impact many who suffer from asthma and allergies.
“Our results indicate that human-caused climate change has already worsened North American pollen seasons and climate-driven pollen trends are likely to further exacerbate respiratory health impacts in coming decades,” the study reads.
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