Weather, Climate and Allergies

After a dry April, the 5th driest on record,  the rain was needed…but not just for what’s growing in the dirt, but for what’s in the air.  Today’s pollen count in Nashville was 4.1, low medium.  That is down because of the rain.  Tomorrow less rain is expected, so the index will be up again to 8.4, that’s in the medium-high category.

For folks who suffer with allergies, spring can be brutal.  All the blossoming plants just make the sneezing and congestion worse.  There are even reports. that the cases of asthma are on the rise.

Research  continues to shed light on the relationship between climate changes and pollen. There’s one study that shows how ragweed pollen is impacted by higher levels of CO2.

Blog 2015PollenRagweed

Other plants have also been examined too.  A new study looks at Timothy Grass pollen, a major cause of early summer allergies. Climate Central reports that researchers  investigated the amount of pollen produced at CO2 concentrations of 400 ppm, which is near current levels, and 800 ppm, which we would exceed  before 2099 if current emissions trends continue. It’s not surprising, the grass produced about twice as much pollen at 800 ppm. Yikes!

Blog pollen 2

Before you sneeze too loudly, the increase in pollen is not the same for all locations. One study found that the northern part of the United States is showing a greater increase in the total number of pollen and that the growing season was getting longer.  The scientist measured pollen at 50 different sampling stations in the U. S. between 1994 and 2010 for their research.

Climate Central points out another aspect of climate change is that plant species are shifting. This introduces different types of pollen into new locations, possibly triggering new allergies.

Blog pollen 1

There is also evidence that the pollen is worse in cities than other areas. This research team planted ragweed in downtown Baltimore, Md., where CO2 levels were about 30% higher and temperatures were 3.5°F higher than outside of the city. They found that ragweed plants grew faster, blossomed earlier and produced more pollen than those planted in the rural areas.

None of this is a pleasant thought, but something we all need to be aware of as our Earth evolves and changes.

I’ll have more on the weather changes for the week, coming up tonight on Channel 4 News at 10pm.

Lisa Spencer

posted 9:30pm

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About Lisa Spencer

Lisa Spencer is the chief meteorologist at WSMV Channel 4 Nashville. You can catch her weathercasts weekdays at 5pm, 6pm and 10pm.
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