Talking about climate (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

Talking about climate (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy a very gratifying interaction with other colleagues interested on the subject of climate. Not because we got to agree or because we found the answers to solve our questions, but because we managed to share different points of view without the use of sarcasm or overpowering attitudes. And such kind of attitude when talking about climate, deserves to be a post on its own.

The conversation began with a topic proposed by Jeffrey M Doyle, PhD over a recent publication (What’s Going On In The North Atlantic? By Stefan Rahmstorf) discussing the findings on Temperature anomalies shared in a paper by Rahmstorf et al. 2015.

The North Atlantic between Newfoundland and Ireland is practically the only region of the world that has defied global warming and even cooled. Last winter there even was the coldest on record – while globally it was the hottest on record. The study published by Rahmstorf et al. attributes this to a weakening of the Gulf Stream System, which is apparently unique in the last thousand years.


Linear temperature trend from 1900 to 2013. The cooling in the subpolar North Atlantic is remarkable and well documented by numerous measurements – unlike the cold spot in central Africa, which on closer inspection apparently is an artifact of incomplete and inhomogeneous weather station data.

Giulio Betti

It will be very interesting to see how the AMOC system will react when the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) will turn cool

Andrew Bell

Very interesting to see the NOAA map of this winter – the cold has been unrelenting in Ottawa. It would be interesting to see if the analysis shows the ocean anomaly is directly driving the land conditions.

Robert Black

I think the climate is dominated by two things 1) solar flux (a small variation here has an outsized effect on surface temperatures, all other things being equal. and 2) the oceanic thermohaline circulations, because the oceans store orders of magnitude more heat than the atmosphere. All of this is strongly modulated by cloud cover, water vapor absorption, etc. I think Man’s effect on climate is small compared to these natural influences.

Giulio Betti

Hi Robert, I’m completely agree with you, this is exactly my thought. The role of Man on climate change exists but is very small, while the impact of Man on natural resources is devastating…I think this is the real problem

Diego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D.

I understand the point of view from which when considering the players in our environment defining the planet’s climate, the proportional relativity between the magnitudes of energy that they manage, “solar flux” and “oceanic thermohaline circulations” are too big to consider that they might be affected by changes in atmospheric composition triggered by Man’s activities.

However, from my point of view, what we are facing is the challenge to understand not how much energy and the source required to change the course of such a big ship from outside, but rather to just move the steering wheel.
And I believe that Land Cover and Atmospheric composition (gases and aerosols) might be the key features here.

Giulio Betti

Dear Diego, I like so much your metaphor, however I’m not sure that the climate steering wheel is completely dependant to human activities; as I wrote I think that the role of Man exists but it’s too small to change durably the climate of an entire planet. I think the Earth climate system is enough complex to react to humans forcing, but I’m not sure that the humankind is enough conscious that the real problem is not the man-made climate change but rather the irresponsible consumption of natural resources…

Diego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D.

Giulio, I understand your point of view and yet I have my doubts before getting to agree.
Climate is a vague term that can mean too many things in the hands of different people. Which variables define our climate? Global T and Humidity? The distribution of zonal Temperatures and humidity regimes? I haven`t even seen an agreement on what is that it has to change in order to define a “shift” in the global climate? Has anybody defined the thresholds defining the climate in our planet? Which are the key values from which beyond or below, we can consider that they are transforming a climate? If we take the equator as a reference we will not have same properties defining our climate as if we take 60 degrees N, or even South due to hemispheric asymmetries. We can use weather patterns, being considered all together, to create a profile describing a planetary climatic system. A profile based on the number, location and characteristics of those weather patterns: T, Humidity, wind speed, Precipitation by type and amount, timing and location for formation and dissipation, etc…. Like defining a forest by the number, location and type of trees.
If we take that definition, and the profile created by those weather patterns to define a planetary climate, the mere fact of being capable to alter one or more variables involved in the formation of those weather events making the profile of the climate, implies a direct link between cause and causation. The proportionality of the forces involved and the relative repercussion from variations for each variable depends entirely on which part of the mechanism gets affected. If the consumption of resources generates variations in the thermodynamic mechanisms driving weather events, ultimately it could generate feedback loops between weather events, changing weather patterns and ultimately the profile of climate defined by them. And I hope I am wrong.

Robert Black

Climate is about a 100-yr average of the local weather, seasonally adjusted, of course, Diego. It changes all the time, as it is a running average. Winter weather in the mid-latitudes is strongly influenced by the positions of the long Rossby wave troughs, as those areas are stormier and colder than the ridges. Large mountain ranges perpendicular to the flow, like the Himalayas and the Rockies, affect the positioning of those long-wave troughs, but they do not control them. The wavelength of these Rossby waves is such that if the West coast has a persistent ridge, the East coast will have a persistent trough, and vice versa.

Giulio Betti

Diego and Robert, your very interesting answers are the proof that this argument is still a “burning issue” 🙂 Thanks

Diego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D.

I want to recognise the comfort of seeing the contribution of other points of view confronted in a constructive manner as part of a common interest to extend an understanding. What it should be the norm it has become a scarce resource.

Giulio Betti

I agree with you Diego

Diego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D.

The concept of climate based on parameters statistically represented before satellites, used to carry big limitations since they only described populated areas. Moreover, it has been created based on conventionalisms trying to unify criteria despite of incorporating uncertainties, just in order to standardise databases. So, it is not so clear what it is what we are dealing with when we talk about climate for the evolution of soils, biota, oceanography or meteorology.

As Aerobiologist, the definition of Climate I am referring to is built upon biological species populating an area being part of an ecosystem. Such type of interpretation allows to study and understand the thresholds which they represent for atmospheric variables where those can be extrapolated to identify the type of climate for the area.

Even though it is clear the impact that climate exerts over the biota, it is yet a matter of study how strong is the role played by the biota over the climate and atmospheric circulation. Which brings forward the question about the impact that changes in land cover and use might trigger over the atmospheric circulation building the “climate”.
I have looked into these questions in various of my posts that you can look under “biological productivity”.

Here I leave an article from 2007 addressing such questions. You can look at the articles citing it for a more in depth search of info.

Detection of human influence on twentieth-century precipitation trends

“The estimated contribution of natural forcing to observed zonal precipitation trends is small in relation to the estimated contribution from anthropogenic forcing. From this and the separate detection of anthropogenic influence in a two-way analysis we conclude that the detected changes in observed land rainfall are largely in response to anthropogenic forcing.”

About the location of the Rossby waves, I understand the influence of orography in weather events at tropospheric level and yet, Rossby waves are happening in the middle of the Atlantic where there is no orographic features explaining the resilience of the blocking pattern that we see there. Neither there is orography explaining the resilient High over California. For me, the question of the rocky mountains is not about their influence inducing the Jet Stream moving Southwards, it is about what makes the Jet stream move Northwards in the East Pacific and Atlantic.
Since Rossby waves are deviations of the Jet Stream from a steady and rigid configuration which has varied between years, I believe that they can be attributed mainly to changes in thermal conductivity on its surroundings.

Through my work addressing those questions in my blog I have shared some studies looking at the aspects linking atmospheric circulation with continentality that you can check under the categories “Influence of continentality” and “Biological productivity”. In particular, in the post entitled “Inland sanctuaries of water vapour for atmospheric circulation” ( you will find an article looking at, among other things, the limited influence of the Rocky mountains in atmospheric circulation, (2010) “Atmospheric circulation is reflected in precipitation isotope gradients over the conterminous United States”.

Jaime Saldarriaga, Ph.D.

Very interesting, well documented contribution. Still, I would think, a less diffuse definition of climate is not included here which makes difficult a sound statistical analysis of climate.

Diego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D.

Agree with Jaime. I haven´t given a less diffuse definition of climate. And may be it is because I don´t really have one and that it is part of what I was trying to highlight in previous comments. The debate about variations in the climate of our planet is weak from the bases if there is no agreement on how would science define it.
And I would like to point out that we have been applying terms and parameters to study our climate which have somehow began to be obsolete. Many parameters were created based on the limitations of the instruments available and we they carry limitations within. One example it has been the use of Relative Humidity vs precipitable water.
So I am always trying to take a very cautious approach when looking at drawing conclusions without completely understanding the meaning and implications of the parameters considered.
I believe that Temperature has been a very bad parameter used to understand our atmospheric circulation when there is not consideration on that Temperature is just one form of energy. Energy which does not disappear when Temperature decreases, it gets only transformed and transported. Einstein was somehow a meteorologist.

Adolf Žižek

I believe that there is nothing metaphysical, but completely natural phenomena associated with thermodynamics and stochastic processes, and Big Data.

—- xxx —-

(This post is part of a more complex piece of independent research. I believe that the hypothesis that I have presented in previous posts in this blog (here, here and here) could help to understand present and possible future scenarios in atmospheric circulation. However, this is an assessment based on observation which needs to be validated throughout open discussion and data gathering. So please feel free to incorporate your thoughts and comments in a constructive manner.

Any scientist working in disciplines related with the topics that I treat in my blog knows how to judge the contribution that my work could potentially add to the state of knowledge. Since I am in transition looking for a position in research, if you are one of those scientists, by just acknowledging any value you might see from my contribution would not only make justice to my effort as independent researcher, but ultimately, it will help me to enhance my chances to find a position with resources to further develop my work.

If you feel like sharing this post I would appreciate to have a reference about the place or platform, by private or public message, in order for me to have the opportunity to join the debate and be aware of the repercussion which might generate d.fdezsevilla(at)

For anybody interested in the posts related with this discussion here I leave you those more relevant in chronological order (there are comments bellow some of them. Please check them out):


About Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.

Citing This Site "Title", published online "Month"+"Year", retrieved on "Month""Day", "Year" from By Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD. More guidance on citing this web as a source can be found at NASA webpage:! DOIs can be generated on demand by request at email: d.fdezsevilla(at) for those publications missing at the ResearchGate profile vinculated with this project. **Author´s profile: Born in 1974. Bachelor in General Biology, Masters degree "Licenciado" in Environmental Sciences (2001, Spain). PhD in Aerobiology (2007, UK). Lived, acquired training and worked in Spain, UK, Germany and Poland. I have shared the outcome from my work previous to 2013 as scientific speaker in events held in those countries as well as in Switzerland and Finland. After 12 years performing research and working in institutions linked with environmental research and management, in 2013 I found myself in a period of transition searching for a new position or funding to support my own line of research. In the current competitive scenario, in order to demonstrate my capacities instead of just moving my cv waiting for my next opportunity to arrive, I decided to invest my energy and time in opening my own line of research sharing it in this blog. In March 2017 the budget reserved for this project has ended and its weekly basis time frame discontinued until new forms of economic and/or institutional support are incorporated into the project. The value of the data and the original nature of the research presented in this platform and at LinkedIn has proved to be worthy of consideration by the scientific community as well as for publication in scientific journals. However, without a position as member of an institution, it becomes very challenging to be published. I hope that this handicap do not overshadow the value of my achievements and that the Intellectual Property Rights generated with the license of attribution attached are respected and considered by the scientist involved in similar lines of research. **Any comment and feedback aimed to be constructive is welcome as well as any approach exploring professional opportunities to be part of.** In this blog I publish pieces of research focused on addressing relevant environmental questions. Furthermore, I try to break the barrier that academic publications very often offer isolating scientific findings from the general public. In that way I address those topics which I am familiar with, thanks to my training in environmental research, making them available throughout my posts. (see "Framework and Timeline" for a complete index). At this moment, 2017, I am living in Spain with no affiliation attachments. Free to relocate geographically worldwide. If you feel that I could be a contribution to your institution, team and projects don´t hesitate in contact me at d.fdezsevilla (at) or consult my profile at LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Also, I'd appreciate information about any opportunity that you might know and believe it could match with my aptitudes. The conclusions and ideas expressed in each post as part of my own creativity are part of my Intellectual Portfolio and are protected by Intellectual Property Laws. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial conditions. In citing my work from this website, be sure to include the date of access. (c)Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD, 2017. Filling in or Finding Out the gaps around. Publication accessed 20YY-MM-DD at
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