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USDA study confirms links between longer ragweed season and climate change
Date:2/22/2011

This release is available in Spanish.

WASHINGTON--Studies by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist and cooperators have confirmed what many pollen-sensitive people already suspected: In some parts of North America, ragweed season now lasts longer and ends later.

Ragweed pollen in some parts of the northern United States and Canada now lingers almost a month longer than it did in 1995, and these increases are correlated to seasonal warming shifts linked to climate change dynamics in the higher latitudes, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"One of the biggest challenges in studying climate change is finding out how the plant kingdom is adapting to increases in air temperature and other meteorological phenomena," said Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "Studies like this also show us that these ecological shifts don't stop at crop production. They can also have a significant impact on public health."

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of responding to climate change.

Assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest that current and future increases in land-surface temperatures are more likely to occur at higher elevations and at higher latitudes. But definitive studies correlating warming temperatures, longer growing seasons, and increased plant pollination have been lacking.

Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Research Unit in Beltsville, Md., led a scientific team that identified 10 locations that had at least 15 years of data, from 1995 to 2009, on local ragweed pollen counts. These locations were along a north-south transect from Austin, Texas, to Saskatoon, Canada. The re
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Contact: Ann Perry
ann.perry@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1628
United States Department of Agriculture - Research, Education and Economics
Source:Eurekalert

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