Scientists are predicting a "miserable" spring for allergy sufferers and place the blame squarely on human-induced global warming and climate change.
"The changing climate has brought early spring, late-ending fall, and large amounts of rain and snow," writes Marlene Cimons, from Climate Nexus. "All of that, combined with historically high levels of carbon dioxide in the air, nourishes the trees and plants that make pollen, and encourages more fungal growth, such as mold, and the release of spores."
Researchers predict that pollen counts will increase by 30 percent by 2020 and can potentially double by 2040 as a result of climate change. Cimon's cites recent extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy and the record-setting blizzard as contributors behind the excess moisture, particularly in the Northeast US.
According to Leonard Bielory, an allergy and immunology specialist with the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction, the first samples of airborne tree pollen are already showing "comparatively severe symptoms" for allergy sufferers.
"I expect more tree pollen than ever to be released this spring, and the reaction to the early pollen to be unusually strong," he said, "[This] promises a robust allergy season."