, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 347-358

Airborne grass pollen in Leiden, The Netherlands: annual variations and trends in quantities and season starts over 26 years

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The long-term, 26 years’ data set of observations on daily concentrations of airborne grass pollen in Leiden is analyzed to present the variations and trends in quantities, and season starting dates. Monitoring of airborne pollen has been done continuously at one location, with a volumetric pollen trap. Annual totals of daily average grass-pollen concentrations are within a normal range of an urban site between 3690 and 9277, averagely 5510. The annual totals are irregularly fluctuating from year to year, and show no increasing or decreasing trend. Each year’s seasonal fluctuation is different, probably under the influence of changing weather conditions. The typical grass-pollen month is June. Using the Σ 75 criterium, the average starting date is on 16 May, whereas with the 1% threshold criterium the start of the grass-pollen season averagely is on 3 June. The mean air temperature in the preceding period is taken as the main factor for the timing of the season start. Analyzing the relationships of the two different criteria for the season starts with a number of temperature observation periods, the best relations were found between the mean air temperature in the period 11 April to 20 May and the Σ 75 criterium season start on 16 May (r=−0.78); and between the mean air temperature in May and the 1% threshold criterium season start on 3 June (r=−0.76). Forecasts of the season start which are significantly better than the average starting date are only possible with the mean air temperature up to a few days before the actual start. This limits the practical usefulness of the forecasting system.