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Increasing Juniperus virginiana L. pollen in the Tulsa atmosphere: long-term trends, variability, and influence of meteorological conditions

Flonard, Michaela, Lo, Esther, Levetin, Estelle
International journal of biometeorology 2018 v.62 no.2 pp. 229-241
Juniperus virginiana, allergenicity, bioclimatology, data collection, dewpoint, grasslands, microscopy, monitoring, pollen, population growth, relative humidity, risk, seasonal variation, statistical analysis, temperature, wind direction, Oklahoma
In the Tulsa area, the Cupressaceae is largely represented by eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.). The encroachment of this species into the grasslands of Oklahoma has been well documented, and it is believed this trend will continue. The pollen is known to be allergenic and is a major component of the Tulsa atmosphere in February and March. This study examined airborne Cupressaceae pollen data from 1987 to 2016 to determine long-term trends, pollen seasonal variability, and influence of meteorological variables on airborne pollen concentrations. Pollen was collected through means of a Burkard sampler and analyzed with microscopy. Daily pollen concentrations and yearly pollen metrics showed a high degree of variability. In addition, there were significant increases over time in the seasonal pollen index and in peak concentrations. These increases parallel the increasing population of J. virginiana in the region. Pollen data were split into pre- and post-peak categories for statistical analyses, which revealed significant differences in correlations of the two datasets when analyzed with meteorological conditions. While temperature and dew point, among others were significant in both datasets, other factors, like relative humidity, were significant only in one dataset. Analyses using wind direction showed that southerly and southwestern winds contributed to increased pollen concentrations. This study confirms that J. virginiana pollen has become an increasing risk for individuals sensitive to this pollen and emphasizes the need for long-term aerobiological monitoring in other areas.