Observation by Eric Alstrom:
Have not seen this before in rain water collection buckets, river banks around boats, and dried up on the ground it is a fine yellow dust like substance. I have had an elder ask if we figured out what this yellow substance is so I am assuming he hasn't seen this before either.
Mark Smith, Air Quality Meteorologist with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, writes:
Not an expert on pollen, but the yellow tint would led me to believe it was pollen.
Jeanne Osnas, Lead Vegetation Ecologist with the UAA Alaska Center for Conservation Science, writes:
I bet on pollen, but it is supremely interesting that the elders think it’s new. Could point to a change in the woody plant community.
Comments from LEO Editors:
In the past week, LEO has received three observations about the unusual abundance of pollen, including this post. In Stebbins, observers noticed a yellow-tinted film on ocean water. In Chuathbaluk, the pollen became visible in the air as it was swept up by the wind in to a tornado.
Warm spring temperatures caused birch tree buds to pop, sending large amounts of pollen in to the air. In Alaska, pollen counts are only measured in Anchorage and in Fairbanks, but the measurements in Fairbanks set a world record during the week of May 11th. Fairbanks recorded pollen counts at 7,045 grains per cubic meter, setting a world record. Typical measurements are about 1,500 grains per cubic meter.
Mike Brubaker writes:
We collect rain water for use on in the garden, providing drinking water for pets, and if our well runs dry or we loose power, for use in the home. This can include flushing the toilet,water plants and hand washing. Pollen can present a problem with rain water collection. Over longer periods it can create odor in the water. You can collect water from the middle of the container to limit the amount of pollen, or you can remove the pollen from the surface by skimming. You might have to do this frequently during a big pollen season. You can also add filters to the downspout or channel the water through a cheesecloth. That should help to keep your rain water supply pollen free. It is important to note that rainwater is not necessarily potable (drinkable) water. Proper treatment of rainwater is needed in order to make it safe for people to drink.