Pollen season trends as markers of climate change impact: Betula, Quercus and Poaceae

Beverley Adams-Groom (Lead / Corresponding author), Katherine Selby, Sally Derrett, Carl A. Frisk, Catherine Helen Pashley, Jack Satchwell, Dale King, Gaynor McKenzie, Roy Neilson

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    Abstract

    The incidences of respiratory allergies are at an all-time high. Pollen aeroallergens can reflect changing climate, with recent studies in Europe showing some, but not all, pollen types are increasing in severity, season duration and experiencing an earlier onset. This study aimed to identify pollen trends in the UK over the last twenty-six years for a range of pollen sites, with a focus on the key pollen types of Poaceae (grass), Betula (birch) and Quercus (oak) and to examine the relationship of these trends with meteorological factors. Betula pollen seasons show no significant trends for onset, first high day or duration but increasing pollen production in the Midlands region of the UK is being driven by warmer temperatures in the previous June and July. Quercus pollen seasons are starting earlier, due to increasing temperature and sunshine totals in April, but are not becoming more severe. The seasons are lasting longer, although no significant climate drivers for this were identified. The first high day of the Poaceae pollen season is occurring earlier in central UK regions due to an increasing trend for all temperature variables in the previous December, January, April, May and June. Severity and duration of the season show no significant trends and are spatially and temporally variable. Important changes are occurring in the UK pollen seasons that will impact on the health of respiratory allergy sufferers, with more severe Betula pollen seasons and longer Quercus pollen seasons. Most of the changes identified were caused by climate drivers of increasing temperature and sunshine total. However, Poaceae pollen seasons are neither becoming more severe nor longer. The reasons for this included a lack of change in some monthly meteorological variables, or land-use change, such as grassland being replaced by urban areas or woodland.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number154882
    Number of pages10
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Volume831
    Early online date29 Mar 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2022

    Keywords

    • Aeroallergens
    • Seasonal respiratory allergy
    • United Kingdom

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