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Pollen Forecasting ArticleThe Fine Art of Pollen Forecasting

Hay fever affects about 20 per cent of Kiwis, many of whom rely on the met service’s daily pollen forecast to prepare their defences for the day ahead. We meet Dr David Fountain, the man behind the daily pollen forecast.

Retired plant biologist Dr David Fountain is one of New Zealand’s unsung heroes. For the past 20 years, he has single-handedly prepared the daily pollen forecast for the whole country during the october to March allergy season. Every evening, he provides pollen forecasts for 28 regional centres, which are published the next day in newspapers around the country, and on the Met Offices website, to help the nation’s army of hay fever sufferers.

Do you know the one? It says: “Telltale signs of hayfever: HIGH. Type is nettle, grass, plantain, olive.

Talking to Dr Fountain in his Palmerston North home, he explains: “It is an assessment of the hazard level, much like the fie danger assessment, so it is a pollen advisory and not a pollen count. We tried to get pollen stations up and going but it hasn’t been practical, there wasn’t any money in New Zealand to do it.”

We are talking about a forecast, I’m trying to predict what will happen. Today, for example, it’s a lovely early summer’s day and the grass flwering season is about to hit us with massive amounts of pollen. There is an anti-cyclone over us, it’s settled with light breezes. The pollen forecast is high for every district.”

A retired Associate Professor of Plant Biology at Massey University, Dr Fountain is an expert in all things pollen. He knows what species flower when and where, and how the weather affects the drift and quantity of pollen in the air...

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Issue: Summer 2013