Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous Christmas

As well as pollen grains this Christmas image features the festive fungal spores of Lophiostoma and Alternaria

Our Bambi season cruises on

In my last post I compared Bambi and Godzilla, with Bambi being Melbourne's grass pollen season and Godzilla being Canberra's season.  Well, the Canberra season marches on.  Perhaps not the most frightening season they've ever seen but, propelled on by some recent good rainfall, certainly well on track for an above average year. 

Meanwhile, here in Melbourne we're getting pretty used to our mild summer weather and a well-entrenched Bambi pollen season.  Today's graph shows its looking remarkably like '08, our mildest pollen season yet.  That's all courtesy of a dry spring with around half the average rainfall

But even Bambi is a wild animal capable of leaving a mark.  That means we've had a few bad days for hay fever.  So far this season there have been 3 high grass pollen days, which are days when the grass pollen count is over 50 grains per cubic metre of air.  But on average we can expect 12 high days a season and 9 extreme days as well (days when the grass pollen count is an eyewatering 100 grains or more).  I can't see any of those in prospect this year and in all likelihood we may well have seen the last of Bambi's wild side as well.

Melbourne sneezes through first high pollen day

Read Craig Butt's story on our first high pollen day in The Age.

Bambi vs Godzilla?

2015 season 2

The other day our Canberra colleagues blogged about how this season is trending towards record levels of grass pollen - they are warning of a potential Godzilla-like hay fever season in the nation's capital! Today's graph shows you how Melbourne season is doing in comparison.

The graph shows the cumulative total of grass pollen grains for the season. That is, each daily count is added to the sum of all the previous daily counts from October 1 – that’s the red line in today’s graph.  Compare that line to the blue line (our average grass season) and the two dashed lines, our worst season (1993) and our mildest season (2008).

A little early to tell yet but on the face of it 2015 is shaping up more Bambi than Godzilla.

We'll check in on progress again in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, here's some great advice on how to manage your hay fever.

October pollen - what's in Melbourne's air?

Oct 15 2015

The Canberra pollen count has put up some fabulous pollen stories lately - great work guys!  Meanwhile what's happeing pollen-wise in the southern capital?

Last Thursday (Oct 15) was our first moderate grass pollen day of the season.  And those of you who do the daily survey available on our free app told us it was also our worst hay fever day so far. 

Thursday's grass pollen was only rated as moderate because we counted an average of 39 pollen grains per cubic metre of air.  A moderate day is one with an average of 20 or more grass pollen grains and a high day one with 50 or more pollen grains.  On high days all people who are grass-pollen sensitive can expect to experience symptoms (unless, of course, they take steps to avoid exposure and use their medication).  We are still waiting for the first high grass pollen day of 2015.

But there was an average of 292 other pollen grains in that cubic metre of air last Thursday and today's picture shows you what some of those other pollen grains were. 

The birches are flowering at the moment, as are some of the daisies (capeweed, Arctotheca calendula, is particularly abundant).  We also saw the triangular pollen of different species from the myrtle family, the Myrtaceae.  This family includes such iconic Australian species as the eucalypts or gum trees, paperbarks and bottlebrushes.  Although these plants have showy flowers and are typically bird-pollinated, because there are so many gum trees and so on around, even if only small amounts of their pollen are released into the air there is still enough of it about to reach our trap. But most of the other pollen grains on the slide were from cypress.

Although we don't talk about them much, there were certainly lots of fungal spores around too of course (we are pollen counters, after all).  Coprinus are the ink cap mushrooms and Alternaria are fungi that are found in the soil and grow on rotting plant matter.  Smuts, too, grow on plants where they often causes diseases, notably of grasses.  All three are pretty normal components of Melbourne's air.  Alternaria spores can cause hay fever although generally it's considered an indoor allergen.

This information is copyright (disclaimer & copyright).
Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part maybe reproduced by any process without prior written permission from
the University of Melbourne, Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Associate Professor Ed Newbigin
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne. Phone: +61 3 8344 4871.