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Influence of Meteorological Conditions on Early Spring Pollen in the Tulsa Atmosphere from 1987 to 2006

Feb 22, Thu 2007
11:00am - 11:30am, MRB Conference Room

Ester Lo

The University of Tulsa


Airborne spring pollen in Ulmus and Cupressaceae taxa are important allergens in North America.  Various climate factors and global warming may affect pollen release and magnitude, and therefore have important consequences for sensitive individuals. Airborne pollen was collected since December 1986 with a Burkard Spore Trap located on the roof of a building at the University of Tulsa.  Burkard slides were prepared and analyzed using standard protocols, and daily concentrations were obtained.  The data was analyzed for seasonal trends and also correlated with meteorological data.  Over 20 years, cumulative season total (CST) increased for Cupressaceae pollen (r=0.61, p<0.005), paralleling the increase in red cedar trees in Oklahoma.  CST for Ulmus pollen showed little change despite declining elm populations.  Season start dates occurred earlier over time for both taxa but results were not significant.  Start date, peak, and season length showed considerable variation.  Pollen concentration was significantly and positively correlated with daily maximum, mean, and minimum temperatures, but the strongest correlation occurred with maximum temperatures for both Ulmus (r=0.49, p<0.001) and Cupressaceae (r=0.60, p<0.001).  Daily pollen concentration showed a significant, negative correlation with precipitation on that day for both Cupressaceae(r=-0.14, p<0.001) and Ulmus (r=-0.14, p<0.001) and also from the previous day forCupressaceae (r=-0.16, p<0.001).  Preseason weather also showed significant correlations with pollen parameters.  Global warming has no direct effect on pollen release but may be partially responsible for the increase in Cupressaceae pollen. Temperature and precipitation are effective indicators of pollen magnitude and preseason predictors of pollen release. 

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