The effect of temperature, relative humidity and rainfall on airborne ragweed pollen concentrations

Research paper by Charles Barnes, Freddy Pacheco, Julie Landuyt, Frank Hu, Jay Portnoy

Indexed on: 01 Mar '01Published on: 01 Mar '01Published in: Aerobiologia


Major weather parameters have long been known to alter airborne pollen and spore concentrations. The following study was conducted to study the effect of three of these parameters on airborne ragweed pollen concentrations.During the ragweed (RW) season for the years 1997 and 1998, 10 minute pollen collections were taken at least every 4 hours using an Allergenco MK-3 spore trap. Slides were fixed, and counted microscopically at 400X. During this same period, weather parameters were monitored by an Automated Weather Systems recording station located within a few meters of the collector.The ragweed season for this region begins in mid August and ends by mid October. Temperature patterns for the period demonstrated usual daily fluctuations with highs 13 to 35 °C and lows 8 to 24 °C. Relative humidity readings for the period varied between 25 and 100%. Highest RW values were seen after seasonal cooling in September. Daily rainfall for the period varied between 0 and 100 mm. Airborne RW always declined sharply after strong rainfall events (> 10 mm/day). Peak airborne RW concentrations were often associated with the passing of frontal boundaries and the change in wind direction and velocity that accompanies that passing.Factors influencing airborne RW concentrations are multiple and complex, but atmospheric forces have great influence. The passing of major weather fronts and the associated temperature drops, wind disturbances and rainfall are the major factors.