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Exploring the spatio-temporal relationship between two key aeroallergens and meteorological variables in the United Kingdom

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  • Nabaz Khwarahm
  • Jadunandan Dash
  • Peter M. Atkinson
  • Rewi M. Newnham
  • C.A. Skjøth
  • B. Adams-Groom
  • Eric Caulton
  • K. Head
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number4
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)529-545
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date31/01/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Constructing accurate predictive models for grass and birch pollen in the air, the two most important aeroallergens, for areas with variable climate conditions such as the United Kingdom, require better understanding of the relationships between pollen count in the air and meteorological variables. Variations in daily birch and grass pollen counts and their relationship with daily meteorological variables were investigated for nine pollen monitoring sites for the period 2000–2010 in the United Kingdom. An active pollen count sampling method was employed at each of the monitoring stations to sample pollen from the atmosphere. The mechanism of this method is based on the volumetric spore traps of Hirst design (Hirst in Ann Appl Biol 39(2):257–265, 1952). The pollen season (start date, finish date) for grass and birch were determined using a first derivative method. Meteorological variables such as daily rainfall; maximum, minimum and average temperatures; cumulative sum of Sunshine duration; wind speed; and relative humidity were related to the grass and birch pollen counts for the pre-peak, post peak and the entire pollen season. The meteorological variables were correlated with the pollen count data for the following temporal supports: same-day, 1-day prior, 1-day mean prior, 3-day mean prior, 7-day mean prior. The direction of influence (positive/negative) of meteorological variables on pollen count varied for birch and grass, and also varied when the pollen season was treated as a whole season, or was segmented into the pre-peak and post-peak seasons. Maximum temperature, sunshine duration and rainfall were the most important variables influencing the count of grass pollen in the atmosphere. Both maximum temperature (pre-peak) and sunshine produced a strong positive correlation, and rain produced a strong negative correlation with grass pollen count in the air. Similarly, average temperature, wind speed and rainfall were the most important variables influencing the count of birch pollen in the air. Both wind speed and rain produced a negative correlation with birch pollen count in the air and average temperature produced a positive correlation.

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