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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 8;108(10):4248-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1014107108. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Recent warming by latitude associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America.

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  • 1Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA. l.ziska@ars.usda.gov

Abstract

A fundamental aspect of climate change is the potential shifts in flowering phenology and pollen initiation associated with milder winters and warmer seasonal air temperature. Earlier floral anthesis has been suggested, in turn, to have a role in human disease by increasing time of exposure to pollen that causes allergic rhinitis and related asthma. However, earlier floral initiation does not necessarily alter the temporal duration of the pollen season, and, to date, no consistent continental trend in pollen season length has been demonstrated. Here we report that duration of the ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) pollen season has been increasing in recent decades as a function of latitude in North America. Latitudinal effects on increasing season length were associated primarily with a delay in first frost of the fall season and lengthening of the frost free period. Overall, these data indicate a significant increase in the length of the ragweed pollen season by as much as 13-27 d at latitudes above ~44°N since 1995. This is consistent with recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections regarding enhanced warming as a function of latitude. If similar warming trends accompany long-term climate change, greater exposure times to seasonal allergens may occur with subsequent effects on public health.

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PMID:
21368130
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3053965
Free PMC Article

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