22. March 2023
How are pollen forecasts made?

In Germany, almost one in seven adults suffers from a medically diagnosed allergy, with pollen being one of the most common triggers. A simple but effective treatment for pollen allergies is to reduce or avoid allergen contact. The pollen forecast is particularly suitable for this purpose.

In Germany, the concentration of pollen in the outdoor air has been monitored since 1983 by the measuring stations in the network of the German Pollen Information Service (PID) foundation. The PID supports pollen allergy sufferers and physicians by providing pollen forecasts and information, thereby making an important contribution to allergy prevention.

For decades, part of the measurement data obtained has formed one of the bases for the German Weather Service’s (DWD) daily graphical pollen load forecast for eight allergy-relevant pollen species, the so-called Pollen Danger Index [1].

In addition, the PID has been providing weekly pollen forecasts for Germany since 2016 that not only cover an extensive spectrum of pollen, but also some allergologically relevant mould spores and represent an important supplement to the DWD forecasts. Beyond the measured pollen data from the PID monitoring network, other building blocks are needed to make a reliable prediction. Predicting pollen levels requires, for example, knowledge of the stage of development of the plants, knowledge of the release of pollen at this stage of development and knowledge of the probable weather development. More pollen from the developed plant is released when the days are warm, sunny and windy; less pollen is released when it is cold and wet. Pollen data from previous years, as well as pollen count forecasting models for specific species, are also available for reference. In order to bring all this information together in a meaningful way, expert knowledge from the fields of aerobiology, botany and allergology must also be taken into account, which then enables a reliable prediction to be made [2]. The PID weekly pollen forecast is available free of charge on the website https://www.pollenstiftung.de/ and in the PID newsletter.

It is generally advisable to find out what data a particular pollen forecast is based on before using or recommending it (on the internet, as an app, etc.).

[1] https://www.dwd.de/DE/leistungen/gefahrenindizespollen/gefahrenindexpollen.html.

[2] https://www.dustri.com/nc/de/article-response-page.html?artId=189013&doi=10.5414%2FALX02295.