2013 Progress Report: [Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease] Observational,Laboratory, and Modeling Studies of the Impacts of Climate Change onAllergic Airway Disease

EPA Grant Number: R834547
Title: [Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease] Observational,Laboratory, and Modeling Studies of the Impacts of Climate Change onAllergic Airway Disease
Investigators: Bielory, Leonard , Bonos, Stacy , Georgopoulos, Panos G. , Hom, John , Isukapalli, Sastry S. , Lankow, Richard , Mayer, Henry , Robock, Alan , Velliyagounder, Kabilan , Ziska, Lewis
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
EPA Project Officer: Ilacqua, Vito
Project Period: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2012 (Extended to March 31, 2016)
Project Period Covered by this Report: April 1, 2013 through March 31,2014
Project Amount: $900,000
RFA: Climate Change and Allergic Airway Disease (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Health , Climate Change

Objective:

Global change affects allergic airway disease (AAD) through changes in exposure to pollen-associated allergens and changes in sensitivity to the allergens. This project proposes to better characterize the mechanisms involved. Investigators will (1) develop a regional atmospheric dynamic model of pollen production, distribution and dispersion; (2) develop a population exposure and dose model for estimating pollen exposures; (3) generate pollen phenology from the existing 25 years database from the existing certified 74 U.S. pollen counting stations; (4) use the regional model to determine how climate change over the next 50 years will change pollen production, distribution, dispersion, and subsequently exposures; and (5) determine the impact of climate change on pollen allergenicity (allergen content) of various species of plants (grasses, weeds, and trees) using plant chamber and transects with in vitro (immunological, molecular plant genomics) and in vivo (human skin testing) techniques.

Progress Summary:

Status and Progress of Research 

  • Analysis of observed airborne 1994-2011 pollen data from American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) monitoring stations has been completed.
    • Annual cumulative airborne pollen count, maximum daily pollen count, mean daily count during the pollen season, start date, season length, and the date of maximum daily pollen count were derived for birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort and grass based on the observed airborne daily count in 86 AAAAI stations across the contiguous United States.
    • Five representative stations in the United States were chosen to further study the relationship between start date and season length, and observed hourly temperature using a Growing Degree Hours (GDH) model. The resultant optimum threshold GDH, initial date, and base temperature were utilized to parameterize the start date and pollen season length in an emission model.
    • Trends of annual cumulative pollen count, maximum daily pollen count, start date and pollen seasons were obtained at 60 AAAAI monitoring stations, which have valid pollen data recorded during 1994-2011. Changes of mean pollen indices between period of 1994-2000 and period of 2001-2010 were compared to identify the climate change effects on spatial temporal distributions of allergenic pollen.
    • Changes of mean pollen indices for periods of 1994-2000 and 2001-2010 were analyzed along the latitude; variograms of mean pollen indices in these two periods also were calculated to identify the variation pattern of allergenic pollen season and levels for different locations.
    • Analyses have been conducted using the observed airborne pollen data from AAAAI and observed meteorology/climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during 1994-2010. Results from these analyses have been used to identify the observed climate change effects on allergenic pollen season of representative trees, weeds and grasses in nine climate regions in the contiguous United States.
  • Bayesian analyses have been conducted to find the relationship between multiple pollen indices and multiple climatic factors using historical pollen and climate data in three representative stations in Europe, and five stations in the United States. The relationships that were established were used to relate future pollen indices (such as annual total) to the future temperature and CO2 levels projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The output of the Bayesian analysis provided future annual total emission fluxes for the emission model.
  • Application and evaluation of SMOKE-Pollen, a pollen-specific emission model based on the Sparse Matrix Operator Kernel Emissions (SMOKE) Modeling System incorporating physical processes such as direct emission and re-suspension of pollen particles, and accounting for meteorological parameters such as surface temperature trends, friction velocity, humidity, precipitation, etc., and information on land use/land cover. The model also incorporates results of historical analysis for estimating effects of climate change on annual pollen emission flux.
    • Observation-based empirical models and process-based mechanistic models (GDH and Growing Degree Days model) were used to generate the start date and length of pollen season based on historical and future meteorology.
    • Area coverage of birch, oak and grass were obtained from the Biogenic Emissions Land use Database, version 3 (BELD3); established an algorithm to estimate the area coverage of ragweed and mugwort using observed airborne pollen data and BELD3 for the contiguous United States.
    • Daily and hourly flowering likelihood were parameterzied based on published data and methodology.
    • A sensitivity analyses module has been developed to test the sensitivities of the developed emission model to different input parameters, and to obtain sensitive parameters for further analyses.
  • Application and evaluation of the WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen, a mechanistic modeling system, coupling Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) with SMOKE-Pollen and the Community Multiscale Air Quality system (CMAQ), to simulate spatiotemporal profiles of pollen emissions and transport over large domains (e.g., the contiguous United States) under a climate change scenario within the framework of the Modeling Environment for Total Risk studies (MENTOR).
    • Results from a version of the WRF model were utilized and downscaled to derive historical and future meteorology data. Historical meteorology simulations were conducted using the National Center for Environmental Prediction/Department of Energy (NCEP/DOE) Reanalysis 2 for boundary conditions; future meteorology simulations were performed using output from the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) to define boundary conditions.
    • The CMAQ model was adapted to simulate pollen transport including the following physico-chemical processes: cloud dynamics, aerosol chemistry, wet and dry deposition, horizontal and vertical advection and dispersion.
    • Verification was conducted by comparing the output of the combined WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system with the observed pollen count at around 86 monitoring stations in the United States and Canada. Statistical analysis is being conducted to obtain metrics such as mean square errors, hit and false alarm rates, correlation coefficients and mean fractional bias, etc., to evaluate simulation results from the model.
    • Sensitivity analyses have been performed to test the response of the developed WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen model to different meteorology files and scenarios. The selected sensitive parameters will be further checked to improve the modeling accuracy.
  • Finished development of an exposure modeling system, adapted to generate population exposure estimates for multiple aero-allergenic pollens, under different climate change scenarios.
    • Background spatio-temporal concentrations of pollen are being derived from simulation results of the combined WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system.
    • Human activity patterns will be obtained from the Consolidated Human Activity Database (CHAD) using region-specific demographic information. Inhalation rates used in the exposure model are estimated with USEPA’s Exposure Factors Handbook. 
  • Ongoing Climate Chamber studies -- presently completed the collection of the final duplicate runs on the weeds (ragweed, mugwort, plantain) and grasses. Initiating the analyses of the physical properties of the allergenic plants and analyses of pollen grains. 

Results to Date 

  • Analysis of historical airborne pollen data from approximately 85 U.S. stations indicates that responses of birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort, and grass pollens to climate change are varied. Furthermore, trends of pollen indices such as start and peak dates, season length, peak values, annual production and annual mean value of the same species behave differently in response to climate change in different U.S. regions.
  • Five representative stations in the U.S. were chosen to further study the relationship between start date and season length, and observed hourly temperature using a Growing Degree Hours (GDH) model. The resultant optimum threshold GDH, initial date, and base temperature were utilized to parameterize the start date and pollen season length in an emission model.
  • Trends of annual cumulative pollen count, maximum daily pollen count, start date and pollen seasons were obtained at 60 AAAAI monitoring stations, which have valid pollen data recorded during 1994-2011. Changes of mean pollen indices between period of 1994-2000 and period of 2001-2010 were compared to identify the climate change effects on spatial temporal distributions of allergenic pollen.
  • Changes of mean pollen indices in periods of 1994-2000 and 2001-2010 were analyzed along the latitude; variograms of mean pollen indices in these two periods also were calculated to identify the variation pattern of allergenic pollen timing and levels for different locations.
  • Analytical results of the recent climate change effects on observed allergenic pollen season variations of allergenic trees, weeds and grasses in nine climate regions across the contiguous United States.
  • Bayesian analysis of historical airborne pollen data from three European stations and two U.S. stations suggests that annual productions and peak values of birch pollen from 2020 to 2100 under different scenarios will be 1.3-8.0 and 1.1-7.3 times higher, respectively, than the mean values for 2000, and start and peak dates will occur approximately 2 to 4 weeks earlier.
  • Simulation results of ambient distributions of pollen in 2004 were evaluated using observed birch, oak, ragweed, mugwort and grass pollen data from multiple AAAAI pollen stations. It is demonstrated that simulation results from the combined SMOKE-WRF-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system could characterize reasonably well the spatiotemporal distribution of birch ,oak, ragweed, mugwort and grass pollen; and that the simulation estimates were comparable with those from observed climatologic means. Simulation results of emissions and ambient distributions of tree, weed and grass pollen for 2001-2004 and 2047-2050 further showed that responses of pollen timing and quantity to future climatic conditions will be different for different allergenic genus and different regions.
  • Simulation results have been obtained for birch,oak, ragweed, mugwort and grass pollen distributions for periods of 2001-2004 and 2047-2050. The simulation results were evaluated and compared between the periods of 2001-2004 and 2047-2050 to estimate the climate change effects on allergenic pollen season timing and levels in future years. 

Future Activities:

  • Climate Chambers – All chamber trials to evaluate the response of the three allergenic weed species have been completed. Data regarding the biomass and floral responses have been evaluated and analyzed statistically. However, quantification of treatment effects on pollen allergenicity have not yet been conducted. Pollen currently is stored in -80°C freezer awaiting analysis. Manuscript preparation will begin in December of this year.
  • Electron and Routine Microscopy – baseline samples have been generated for grass pollen (Phleum pretense) and common mugwort. Additional baseline allergenic plants to be studied include ragweed and English plantain. Baseline measurements of control samples utilizing a digital program have been initiated and will require the reallocation of funds from travel to purchase of an updated digital microscope.
  • The developed WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system will be documented with schematic diagrams, equations, algorithms and procedures for practical application and further improvements.
  • The expanded MENTOR for allergenic pollen exposure modeling system will be documented and its operational applications in the fields of forecast and research of allergy and airborne allergenic pollen distributions demonstrated.
  • Manuscripts to present the results obtained using the developed WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ-Pollen modeling system and exposure modeling system will be prepared. 


Journal Articles on this Report : 4 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 63 publications 16 publications in selected types All 14 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Gleason JA, Bielory L, Fagliano JA. Associations between ozone, PM2.5, and four pollen types on emergency department pediatric asthma events during the warm season in New Jersey:a case-crossover study. Environmental Research 2014;132:421-429. R834547 (2013)
R834547 (2014)
R834547 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Georgopoulos PG. Climate change effect on Betula (birch) and Quercus (oak) pollen seasons in the United States. International Journal of Biometeorology 2014;58(5):909-919. R834547 (2011)
    R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2013)
    R834547 (2014)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Mi Z, Cai T, Robock A, Georgopoulos P. Allergenic pollen season variations in the past two decades under changing climate in the United States. Global Change Biology 2015;21(4):1581-1589. R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2013)
    R834547 (2014)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
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  • Journal Article Zhang Y, Bielory L, Cai T, Mi Z, Georgopoulos P. Predicting onset and duration of airborne allergenic pollen season in the United States. Atmospheric Environment 2015;103:297-306. R834547 (2012)
    R834547 (2013)
    R834547 (2014)
    R834547 (Final)
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    allergens, exposure, climate change, health effects, dose-response , RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Health Risk Assessment, climate change, Risk Assessments, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, air quality modeling, ecosystem models, climatic influence, climate related morbidity, emissions impact, modeling, climate models, demographics, human exposure, regional climate model, ambient air pollution, Global Climate Change

    Relevant Websites:

    http://envsci.rutgers.edu Exit

    http://ccl.rutgers.edu Exit

     

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • Final Report