International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Climate factors influencing bacterial count in background air samples

  • Roy M. HarrisonEmail author
  • Alan M. Jones
  • Peter D. E. Biggins
  • Nigel Pomeroy
  • Christopher S. Cox
  • Stephen P. Kidd
  • Jon L. Hobman
  • Nigel L. Brown
  • Alan Beswick
Original Article


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.


Bacteria Climate Temperature Wind speed PCR 



The authors are grateful to Dstl Porton for funding this work under contract number CU 013-0000011563 (2017/013/CBD). Air mass trajectory information and off-site meteorological data were provided by the British Atmospheric Data Centre. Dr. Alan Turnbull conducted the field sampling of bioaerosols, technical support was provided by Mala Patel and Fay Hughes, and information on the ADMS model was provided by Simon Parker. Contents include material subject to © Crown Copyright 2004, Dstl.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy M. Harrison
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan M. Jones
    • 1
  • Peter D. E. Biggins
    • 2
  • Nigel Pomeroy
    • 2
  • Christopher S. Cox
    • 3
  • Stephen P. Kidd
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jon L. Hobman
    • 4
  • Nigel L. Brown
    • 4
  • Alan Beswick
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Geography, Earth and Environmental ScienceThe University of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  2. 2.Dstl PortonSalisburyUK
  3. 3.Biotec ConsultantsShrewsburyUK
  4. 4.School of BiosciencesThe University of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  5. 5.Department of Microbiology and ParasitologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Health and Safety LaboratorySheffieldUK

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