Climate change and its impact on birch pollen quantities and the start of the pollen season an example from Switzerland for the period 1969–2006

Abstract

As published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global warming is a reality and its impact is huge like the increase of extreme weather events, glacier recession, sea level rise and also effects on human health. Among them allergies to airborne pollen might increase or change in pattern due to the invasion of new allergic plants or due to different behavior of plants like earlier flowering. In this study we used the longest Swiss airborne pollen data set to examine the influence of the temperature increase on the time of flowering. In the case of Basel, where pollen data for 38 years are available, it was shown that due to a temperature increase the start of flowering in the case of birch occurred about 15 days earlier. Apart from a shift of the start of the flowering there is also a trend towards higher annual birch pollen quantities and an increase of the highest daily mean pollen concentrations. Due to global warming and because symptoms may appear earlier in the year people suffering from a pollen allergy might face a new unaccustomed situation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Ahas R, Aasa A, Menzel A, Fedotova G, Schleifinger H (2002) Changes in European spring phenology. Int J Climatol 22:1727–1738

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bättig MB, Wild M, Imboden DM (2007) A climate change index: where climate change may be most prominent in the 21st century. Geophys Res Lett 34:L01705 DOI 10.1029/2006GL028159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Begert M, Schlegel T, Kirchhofer W (2005) Homogeneous temperature and precipitation series of Switzerland from 1864–2000. Int J Climatol 25:65–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Casty C, Wanner H, Luterbacher J, Esper J, Böhm R (2005) Temperature and precipitation variability in the European Alps since 1500. Int J Climatolol 25:1855–1880

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Clot B (2004) Trends in airborne pollen: an overview of 21 years of data in Neuchâtel (Switzerland). Aerobiologia 19:3–4

    Google Scholar 

  6. D'Amato G, Spieksma FTH, Bonini S (1991) Allergenic pollen and pollinosis in Europe. Blackwell Scientific Publisher, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dose V, Menzel A (2004) Bayesian analysis of climate change impacts in phenology. Global Change Biol 10:259–272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Emberlin J, Detandt M, Gehrig R, Jaeger S, Nolard N, Rantio-Lehtimäki A (2002) Responses in the start of Betula (birch) pollen seasons to recent changes in spring temperatures across Europe. Int J Biometeorol 46:159–170

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Frei T (1998) The effects of climate change in Switzerland 1969–1996 on airborne pollen quantities from hazel, birch and grass. Grana 37:172–179

    Google Scholar 

  10. Frei T (2000) A change from grass pollen induced allergy to tree pollen induced allergy: 30 years of pollen observation in Switzerland. Aerobiology 16:407–416

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Goldberg C, Buch H, Moseholm L, Rung Weeke E (1988) Grana 27:209–217

    Google Scholar 

  12. Häkkinen R (1999) Statistical evaluation of bud development theories: application to bud burst of Betula pendula leaves. Tree Physiol 19:613–618

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Häkkinen R, Linkosalo T, Hari P (1998) Effects of dormancy and environmental factors on timing of bud burst in Betula pendula. Tree Physiol 18:707–712

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Hänninen H (1995) Effects of climatic change on trees from cool and temperate regions: an ecophysiological approach to modelling of budburst phenology. Can J Bot 73:183–199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hirst JM (1952) An automatic volumetric spore trap. Ann Appl Biol 39:257–265

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. In: Houghton JT et al (ed) Third assessement report of the working group I. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  17. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Alley R et al (ed) Fourth assessement report of working group I. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  18. Menzel A, Fabian P (1999) Growing season extended in Europe. Nature 397:659

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Rasmussen A (2002) The effects of climate change on the birch pollen season in Denmark. Aerobiologia 18:253–265

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Sneyers R (1990) On the statistical analysis of series of observations. WMO, Technical Note 143, Geneva

  21. Spieksma FTH, Emberlin J, Hjelmroos M, Jäger S, Leuschner RM (1995) Atmospheric birch (Betula) pollen in Europe: trends and fluctuations in annual quantities and the starting dates of the seasons. Grana 34:51–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Spieksma FThM, Corden JM, Detandt M, Millington WM, Nikkels H, Nolard N, Schoenmakers CHH, Wachter R, de Weger LA, Willems R, Emberlin J (2003) Quantitative trends in annual totals of five common airborne pollen types (Betula, Quercus, Poaceae, Urtica and Artemisia), at five pollen-monitoring stations in western Europe. Aerobiologia 19:171–184

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Wüthrich B (1989) Epidemiology of the allergic diseases: Are they really in the increase? Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 90:3–10

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Dr. Ruth Leuschner for making available the Basel pollen data.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas Frei.

Additional information

Ewald Gassner: Retired

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Frei, T., Gassner, E. Climate change and its impact on birch pollen quantities and the start of the pollen season an example from Switzerland for the period 1969–2006. Int J Biometeorol 52, 667 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-008-0159-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Global warming
  • Temperature
  • Pollen allergy
  • Phenology