How accurate is the epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasting system?

There is an element of uncertainty with all forecasts. Most weather and climate forecasts are based on complex models with inputs from satellite data and land-based measurements. This is also true for the epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast.

Considerable work has gone into building a forecast system which incorporates the best understanding of the relationships between grass growth across Victoria, grass pollen levels and its spread or movement, weather observations and emergency department asthma presentations.

The science of epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasting is very new. Like all forecasting models, the epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecast is based on a simulation of the environmental conditions and its accuracy will be limited by how precisely this complex phenomena can be represented.

The current forecasting model is based on our understanding of grass pollen behaviour from pollen collected over many years in Melbourne. The acquisition of five new pollen monitors provides an opportunity to vastly increase our understanding of pollen distribution across Victoria, and pollen data collected from these new sites will be invaluable in verifying the forecasting model and refining it over time.

The department is also investing in research to enable improved understanding of the mechanisms involved in epidemic thunderstorm asthma and in future improvements in forecasting capability.

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