Climate change makes pollen season worse
Climate change has made allergy seasons longer and pollen counts higher, but you’re not sneezing yet.
Climate scientists at the University of Michigan studied pollen of 15 different plants in the United States and used computer simulations to calculate how much worse allergy seasons might get by 2100. This is enough to make allergy sufferers even more red eyes.
As the world warms, allergy season will start weeks earlier and end days later — and last longer, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature, and in some places, pollen levels Possibly up to three times the communication.
Warmer weather causes plants to start blooming earlier and makes them bloom later. Meanwhile, the extra carbon dioxide in the air from burning fuels such as coal, gasoline and natural gas helps plants produce more pollen, said study co-author Allison Steiner, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan.
It’s already happening. A year ago, a study from various researchers found that from 1990 to 2018, pollen increased and allergy season started earlier, much of it due to climate change.
Allergists say pollen season in the U.S. used to start around St. Patrick’s Day and now usually starts around Valentine’s Day.
New research finds that allergy seasons will be longer and total pollen counts will soar. How long and how much depends on the specific pollen, location and greenhouse gas emissions in the air.
With modest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from coal, oil and natural gas, the pollen season will start 20 days earlier by the end of the century. In the most extreme and increasingly unlikely warming scenario, the pollen season in much of the United States will start 40 days earlier than it has typically started in recent decades.
About 30 percent of the world and 40 percent of U.S. children already suffer from hay fever, which hurts the economy from lost workdays and medical bills, said Yingxiao Zhang, lead author of the new study and a climate researcher at the University of Michigan.
Allergies are especially difficult for the 25 million Americans with asthma. That could make their problems worse, said Amir Sapkota, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland who was not involved in the study.
While allergy suffering will increase across the U.S., the Southeast will be hit the hardest, Steiner said.
The alder pollen season will see the most dramatic changes at the start of the season, a problem in the Pacific Northwest. Cypress pollen — especially severe in Texas — will see the biggest increase.
Ragweed and grasses — common pollen allergies — will also have longer seasons and higher pollen counts in the future, Zhang said.
University of Utah biologist and climate scientist Bill Andrews said the University of Michigan team’s forecast project will be about double the pollen problem that has occurred since 1990.
“Overall, this is a very important study,” said Andreager, who was not involved in the new study. “It tells us that the historical trend of longer and more severe pollen seasons, driven by climate change, is likely to continue, with absolutely significant health consequences for allergies and asthma in Americans.”
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