First high pollen day of 2016

first high day 2016a

On Saturday October 15 we had our first high grass pollen day for the 2016 season.  Does this date tell us anything about the season ahead?

The graph shows the date of the first high grass pollen day for each season from 1996 to 2015, plotted against the total number of high and extreme grass pollen days for that season.

Remember that our high days are when the grass pollen count is 50 or more grass pollen grains per cubic metre of air, with extreme days those with 100 or more grass pollen grains.  Also, that our counting season starts on October 1.

The graph shows that our earliest high grass pollen days are in early October and our latest in mid-November.  The line shows a relationship called a linear regression that attempts to explain the data points using a simple line.  While that line isn't a perfect explanation of the data it's not a bad approximation either (for the technically minded, the R2 for the regression is 0.36).

So the earlier the first high day occurs the worse the season and vice versa. 

The red dot shows October 15, the first high day for this season.  Based on this date we can expect about 25 high and extreme grass pollen days by December 31.  That's slightly above the average of 20 high and extreme days per season.

Or put another way, that's roughly a third of the days left before New Year's Eve.  Not our worst year but bad enough.

The plane trees are flowering

The season cometh

pollen Sept 21 2016 b

I had the great privilege of introducing a group of work experience students to the joys of pollen counting the other day.  And what a fun and engaging time we had together, finding out what pollen is, where it comes from, the different types of pollen and how the pollen of some plants can affect our health.

Amazingly they went from the awe and wonderment of seeing a pollen grain with a microscope for the first time, to counting and identifying pollen a couple of hours later.  What a terrific bunch!

Today's picture shows what was in the air on Thursday September 22 and the students tell me the count was 83 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.  We're now well into the tree pollen season and the slide mainly contained pine and plane tree pollen.  There was even one grass pollen grain, the first but sadly not the last of the season.

Officially we'll start counting on October 1 but will spend the next few days checking out the system and making sure it's all working as it should.

The elm movie

The elms are flowering

On Thursday Sept 8 the pollen count was 36 grains per cubic metre of air and we saw something new in the air as well - elm pollen.  Although the elms still lack leaves they are now flowering and their wind-borne pollen is known to cause allergies.  Most of the pollen on Thursday was from pine but about a third was elm.  Our friends at the Canberra pollen count wrote a great little article on elms in Australia which you can read here.

Over the next few weeks we expect to start seeing pollen from several more tree species.

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