J25.4 Developing an Early Warning for Onset of Allergenic Pollen Season

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 11:15 AM
Room 17B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Fiona Lo, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA; and C. M. Bitz and J. J. Hess

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is estimated to affect 10-30% of adults in the U.S. and 40% of children. An early warning of the onset of the pollen season is useful as allergies triggered by pollen can be mitigated by prophylactically taking medication 1-4 weeks before the beginning of the pollen season. It is known that temperature and precipitation affect the phenology of plants. Our research characterizes the temporal patterns of pollen in the atmosphere and how it relates to weather and climate. From this, we demonstrate the feasibility of an early warning forecast of the onset of the pollen season based on temperature and precipitation.

This study relates observed pollen counts from 51 stations in the US from 2003 to 2016 to the timing of vegetation green-up recorded remotely from MODIS. These measures are used together to identify the onset of the pollen season, which is subsequently compared with lagged correlation to monthly temperature and precipitation from MERRA2 reanalysis. The use of observations from MODIS offers the potential to spatially expand beyond the station data to the kilometer grid scale of the remote sensing observations.

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