Climate change is driving up pollen emissions and allergy risks at a ‘breathtaking’ rate

The sudden increase in daytime temperatures in February and March, well before the actual start of summer, has worried environmentalists for years. Seasons have become shorter and spring tends to arrive earlier than usual, impacting cyclical plant growth – a phenomenon often linked to climate change.

Now, a new study by scientists at the US-based University of Michigan has shown that climate change may, in fact, be causing plant pollen emissions to start 10 to 40 days earlier in the States. -United. According to the modeling study published in Nature Communications, these changes would be well evident by the end of the century and could have additional negative effects on human health, with increasing levels of pollution.

Pollination is an essential ecological process that leads to the fertilization of plants without which the human race and all terrestrial ecosystems on earth would not survive. However, it is also known to affect the health of at least 30% of the world’s population, which is susceptible to pollen-induced respiratory allergies and hay fever. Most of them are seen in children under the age of 18. The lengthening of the pollen allergy season due to rising temperatures could seriously affect allergy sufferers, say the scientists.

Lead researchers Yingxio Zhang and Allison Steiner said they have started the simulations to understand how climate change will alter plants’ pollen production and, therefore, seasonal allergies. The team combined climate data with socioeconomic scenarios and developed a modeling approach to project changes in pollen emissions in the United States by 2081-2100. They compared this data to a historical period of 20 years (1995-2014) and predicted that by 2081, pollen emissions could start up to 40 days in advance and last 19 days longer, increasing the annual pollen emissions in the United States of at least. 16 to 40 percent.

The team further added that an increase in pollution levels in the coming years could make the problem worse. “These findings are a starting point for further investigation into the consequences of climate change on pollen emission patterns and subsequent health implications,” reads the article.

While the research is modeled after the United States, Indian scientists have also expressed concerns about the onset of spring in the country and shown its impact on the flowering season of plants in multiple studies. Over the years, the country has experienced a sudden increase in temperatures towards the end of February, and the transition from winter to summer is not as gradual as it would normally occur in the Earth’s cycle. .

As a result, leaf fall starts early and trees like Delonix, popularly known as Gulmohar, which normally start flowering in June have started flowering in March due to warmer temperatures.

It is mid-March and high temperatures are already 5.1°C higher than normal in most places of Himachal Pradesh, Konkan and Goa, Jammu-Kashmir, Ladakh, Muzaffarabad , West Rajasthan, Assam-Meghalaya and Saurashtra-Kutch.

India’s meteorological department has also issued a heat wave alert for the Saurashtra-Kutch region of Gujarat, southwestern Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh, Konkan-Goa, Odisha as well as the coast of Karnataka.

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