, Volume 49, Issue 6, pp 355-362
Date: 24 Mar 2005

The use of discriminant analysis and neural networks to forecast the severity of the Poaceae pollen season in a region with a typical Mediterranean climate

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Biological particles in the air such as pollen grains can cause environmental problems in the allergic population. Medical studies report that a prior knowledge of pollen season severity can be useful in the management of pollen-related diseases. The aim of this work was to forecast the severity of the Poaceae pollen season by using weather parameters prior to the pollen season. To carry out the study a historical database of 21 years of pollen and meteorological data was used. First, the years were grouped into classes by using cluster analysis. As a result of the grouping, the 21 years were divided into 3 classes according to their potential allergenic load. Pre-season meteorological variables were used, as well as a series of characteristics related to the pollen season. When considering pre-season meteorological variables, winter variables were separated from early spring variables due to the nature of the Mediterranean climate. Second, a neural network model as well as a discriminant linear analysis were built to forecast Poaceae pollen season severity, according to the three classes previously defined. The neural network yielded better results than linear models. In conclusion, neural network models could have a high applicability in the area of prevention, as the allergenic potential of a year can be determined with a high degree of reliability, based on a series of meteorological values accumulated prior to the pollen season.