Climate factors influencing bacterial count in background air samples

Roy Harrison, Alan Jones, PDE Biggins, N Pomeroy, CS Cox, SP Kidd, Jonathan Hobman, Nigel Brown, A Beswick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Citations (Scopus)


Total (as opposed to culturable) bacterial number counts are reported for four sites in the United Kingdom measured during campaigns over four separate seasons. These are interpreted in relation to simple climatic factors, i.e. temperature, wind speed and wind direction. Temperature has a marked effect at all four sites with data for a rural coastal site conforming best to a simple exponential model. Data for the other rural and urban locations show a baseline similar to that determined at the coastal rural location, but with some very significant positive excursions. The temperature dependence of bacterial number is found to conform to that typical of bacterial growth rates. At the coastal rural location, bacterial numbers normalised for temperature show no dependence on wind speed whilst at the inland sites there is a decrease with increasing wind speed of the form expected for a large area source. Only one site appeared to show a systematic relationship of bacterial concentrations to wind direction that being a site in the suburbs of Birmingham with highest number concentrations observed on a wind sector approaching from the city centre. PCR techniques have been used to identify predominant types of bacteria and results are presented which show that Bacillus was the dominant genus observed at the three inland sites during the winter and summer seasons. Pseudomonas appeared with comparable frequency at certain sites and seasons. There was in general a greater diversity of bacteria at the coastal site than at the inland sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Early online date29 Jul 2004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • wind speed
  • bacteria
  • climate
  • temperature
  • PCR


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