Pollen allergy and asthma affect between 15-40% of the European population and as such are some of the most common chronic diseases in the region. Related direct and indirect costs have been estimated to be between €50-150 billion per year. Air pollution and extreme weather can further exacerbate pollen allergy and it is believed that, together with other environmental elements, these factors have played a role in the increasing prevalence of pollen allergy in Europe over the past decades.
Practical mitigation and adaptation measures are based on pollen observations. These data are used by physicians for diagnosis, treatment, clinical studies, and education. They are also used for empirical and numerical pollen forecasts, which in turn aid allergy sufferers to effectively plan their activities and medication intake. Furthermore, long-term pollen data are useful for phenological studies and monitoring of invasive species.
Timely information can help allergy sufferers. Recent technological developments present the possibility of providing automatic real-time pollen observations that could revolutionise the availability of information and vastly improve the treatment and lives of allergy sufferers, as well as the forecasts provided. At present, methods are manual and suffer from poor time resolution and long delays in data availability.
"Serving as a Proof-of-Concept for a European automatic pollen monitoring network using high temporal-resolution real-time measurements."
The AutoPollen programme seeks to take full advantage of the large potential for progress that automatic pollen observations provide. It brings together a consortium from across Europe with the multidisciplinary expertise needed to address the challenges along the entire information chain – from the actual observation through to the final end-user defined product. The programme is particularly innovative in its cooperation and standardisation from-the-start approach. It might also favour a convergence with the aerosol and air quality monitoring communities, resulting in improved service provision and additional savings.
The programme aims to:
· Define the main standards of automatic pollen monitoring (methods, sites, data format, quality assessment and control, etc.).
· Demonstrate the feasibility of a European network by integrating developing and planned projects.
· Deliver information and recommendations to members for the establishment of automatic pollen networks and the development of related products based on real-time pollen data.
· Actively engage with stakeholders to ensure end-products are designed with their needs as priority.
· Provide a space to share multidisciplinary expertise to ensure synergy and collaboration.
· Explore the way to standardisation and the possible extension of the activity to the WMO.
The AutoPollen Programme is coordinated by MeteoSwiss, started in January 2018 and will run until the end of 2022.
ARSO – Slovenian Environment Agency
CHMI – Czech Hydrometeorological Institute
DHMZ – Meteorological and Hydrological Institute of Croatia
DWD – German Weather Service
FMI – Finnish Meteorological Institute
HNMS – Hellenic National Meteorological Service
IMGW-PIB – Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (Poland)
Met Eireann – The Irish Meteorological Service
MeteoLux – Luxemburg Weather Service
MeteoSwiss – Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology
ZAMG – Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics
Siauliai University, Lithuania
Biosense Institute Research – Institute for Information Technologies in Biosystems, Serbia
Swedish Natural History Museum, Sweden
Asociación Española de Aerobiología (AEA) – Red Española de Aerobiología (REA), Spain
National Pirogov Memorial Medical University, Ukraine
European Aerobiology Society
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