Atmospheric Circulation and Climate Drift. Are we there yet? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

Atmospheric Circulation and Climate Drift. Are we “there” yet? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

Atmospheric Circulation

Normally I spend many words trying to make a point. This time I will try to just apply images and breve comments following a chronologically order. Comments are extracted from previous discussions and posts.

May 3rd, 2015

5th May 2015 Temp Anomaly Wester EuropeDiego Fernández Sevilla, Ph.D. So, Polar masses of air start to be common features moving south of Europe throughout the Winter, and Heat waves start to move North from Africa in the Spring. It use to be a matter of the Azores high moving East or to the West of the Atlantic. Are the patterns changing from movements in longitude to movements in Latitude?

May 14th, 2015

A roller-coaster of temperatures in South Europe. Spain (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) Posted on

A new record maximum temperature for Spain was set yesterday 13th May, with many local records also broken, and the heat continues today (14th May) in the southeast (Temp on 14th May: All-Time May Heat Record for Europe Falls For the 2nd Time This Month.By: Jeff Masters. May 14, 2015).

Iberia TempsThe new record of 42.6C was recorded at Lanzarote Airport in the Canary Islands, beating the previous May record for Spain by a relatively large 2.5 degrees. It also beats the Lanzarote station’s own previous highest May temperature by a whopping 6 degrees.

The previous May record in Spain was 40.1C at Cordoba on the mainland, and Cordoba itself recorded a new May station record on Wednesday with 41.2C.

Met Office Global Model mean sea level pressure and temperature

June 5th, 2015

Drinking from the source (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) Posted on

I have been discussing in previous posts my point of view over the mechanisms driving these contrasts on weather events. However, at risk of overstating my thoughts, I want to add my take on this situation. I believe that these “bubbles” or “drops” of weather is the new way for the transition between seasons, by their number, size, location, resilience to dissipate and proximity in time and space to coalesce. And for as long as the thermal contrast between Polar and subpolar masses of air decreases, warm masses of air will reach higher latitudes more frequently. That is my humble opinion.

From my own perspective, and looking at the state of the climate from data and biotic indicators, an increase in intrusions of warm masses of air into higher latitudes will change Ecotypes and Ecoclines affecting the state of Biotopes. If you are not familiarised with the terminology, look for “The Law of Relative Constancy of Habitat—Ecotypes and Ecoclines”.

July 1st, 2015

2e732eaa-d64b-4f1a-90e9-ac56bef9db99-mediumThese bursts of warm air keep reaching further northern latitudes and earlier in time. I can only relate with what I have said in previous posts and messages about possible scenarios linking increases of CO2 and water vapour with changes in atmospheric circulation. I miss having more feedback on my assessments from other scientists. So far things are unfolding as I thought they would. And I don´t like be right about bad things… If I am wrong on my assessment I would feel released, but if I am right, I would feel guilty if I wouldn´t have shared my thoughts.

In the following video I have made a composition of images showing Satellite views of the atmospheric conditions over Western Europe 1st July 2015:

  • Visual range from ESA International Space Station
  • Colour Range snap shot from Terra Satellite
  • Water vapour from MODIS
  • Temperature from MODIS

Climate Drift.

The only way to know if we have arrived to our destination is if we know where we are going. If we don´t know what it is that we are looking for, it is very difficult to identify when we have arrived.

At this time it seems that everybody is “waiting” or/and “looking for” the “ultimate proof” in the form of a “statistically significant value“, which will tell us where and what is the destination for our climate (and us by its impact). Therefore, the question keeps coming, are we there yet? But the answer does not seem to arrive easily.

The mere absence of having an answer points strongly to three possibilities:

  • Lack of enough data. We need more time to gather more data.
  • Inaccurate methodologies. We need more time to enhance those. OR,
  • The answer is the existence of a state of “instability”, which by its own definition, can not be modelled or correlated.

Could it be that the answer lies in the difficulty of finding an answer?

Some scientists have faced this situation before when they looked deep into space and found locations from where it was impossible to receive data. The absence of data was the answer. They called them “Black Holes”.

I believe that we might be facing similar situation with our climate. Something that is unstable is by definition unpredictable, for example, earthquakes. And this is something different  from variability. Our climate and natural systems incorporate variability in their behaviour. But the existence of our environment as we know it, comes with a variability within a range of tolerance thresholds. So what we are facing here is the possibility of seeing tolerance thresholds trespassed at various parts of our ecosystem, triggering a chain reaction all over the enclosed system encapsulated by the atmosphere of our planet.

So far, we might not be able to define when or what is coming, but we can see and feel where we are. And from here, we might be able to identify if “we are already there”.

Are we “there” yet?

The confluence at the same time of reducing environmental potential for fixing and storing Carbon meanwhile increasing Carbon activation through combustion has increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 constantly since the industrial revolution.

The thermal properties of CO2 interact with other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and the chemistry of the Oceans. Both systems are directly linked with the thermodynamic behaviour of our systems inland and in the Oceans. That is broadly what we call climate.71edda07-fb6e-498e-a522-979b02edd244-620x456

By detecting an increment in the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere it was pointed out the potential effect that it could induce into the stability of the environmental system at global scale due to feedback effects with other greenhouse gasses and the chemistry of our Oceans.

One of the feedbacks with potential repercussion altering atmospheric circulation is the increase in water vapour and the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere due to incresing conc. of CO2. Increasing atmospheric water vapour would incorporate more energy in the atmosphere in the form of latent heat (easily transformed into potential and kinetic), and increasing atmospheric thermal conductivity would reduce the stability of atmospheric events and jet streams which strength is defined by thermal contrasts with their surroundings.

The 10th of March I made a video showing the paths followed in atmospheric circulation to introduce Water vapour into polar circulation (North Pacific and East Atlantic). I believe that the event that we are seeing these days is just showing how strongly the Polar circulation is being affected by subtropical circulation at the East Atlantic. Use the pause to understand the info in the slides.

 One major side effects triggered by such feedbacks would be noticed in the form of a weak Polar jet stream inducing an increase in frequency for warm masses of air moving at higher latitudes in the warm face of the yearly cycle, which elongate its duration. And cold masses of air getting into lower latitudes in the cold phase of the year. Creating drops of weather and a roller-coaster of temperatures at some latitudes.  1st week monthly intervals Temp Anomaly Wester Europe 2015 by Diego Fdez-SevillaAnother major side effect would be seen throughout increases in Water vapour at Polar latitudes,  followed by the warming up of higher latitudes, and a change in plant distribution and metabolic health.

Temperature. The map and bar graph show how air temperatures in the Arctic compare to averages from 1979 to 2013. On the map, areas with higher than average temperatures for the selected month and year are indicated in oranges and reds (positive anomalies), and areas with lower than average temperatures are shown in blues (negative anomalies). These are temperatures two meters above the surface, similar to the temperatures given in weather reports and forecasts. The bar graph indicates the average temperature anomaly for the selected month and year, for the entire Arctic (the area north of 60°N). Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is a measure of the concentration of green vegetation for a given area of the land surface. The maps and bar graphs show how NDVI in Arctic land areas for different years and months compares to the long-term average for the period 1982 to 2010. On the map, areas with higher NDVI than the average for the selected month are indicated in greens (positive anomalies), and areas with lower than average NDVI are shown in browns (negative anomalies). The bar graph indicates the NDVI anomaly for the selected month and year for the entire Arctic land area (the land area north of 60° N). Water vapour. The maps and bar graphs show how the amount of water vapor in the Arctic atmosphere for different years and months compares to averages from 1979 to 2013. On the map, areas with greater than average water vapor for the selected month and year are indicated in purples (positive anomalies), and areas with less than average water vapor are shown in greens (negative anomalies). The values show the mass of water vapor in a column of the atmosphere that stretches from the surface to the top of the atmosphere. The bar graph indicates the water vapor anomaly for the selected month and year, for the entire Arctic (the area north of 70°N).

Based on all previous data and figures, I don´t have a “value” statistically significant to give an answer on where we are or where we are getting to under the climate drift. But, in terms of when “Natural variability” might be replaced by “Anthropogenic forcing”?, I have the sense of that we have arrived at destination couple of years ago already.

Acknowledgements. Thanks to Giulio Betti (Meteorologist at Consorzio LaMMA (National Research Council) for the charts of Temperature anomalies over Western Europe and to all of whom share the much appreciated feedback. If you share this post I would appreciate that you send me a message pointing me out the place or LinkedIn group so I can be aware of other points of view. Thanks. (d.fdezsevilla(at)

—- xxx —-

(This post is part of a more complex piece of independent research. I don´t have founding, political agenda or publishing revenues from visits. 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.

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.

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)

More assessments presenting chronologically the line of research published in this blog can be accessed in the category Framework and Timeline.

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) updated 26 Aug 2016:


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:! 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 previous work as scientific speaker in events held in those countries as well as in Switzerland and Finland. After couple of years performing research and working in institutions linked with environmental research and management, I find myself in a period of transition searching for a new position or funding to support my research. In the present competitive scenario, instead of just moving my cv and wait for my next opportunity to arrive, I have decided to invest also my energy and time in opening my own line of research showing what I am capable of. The value of the data and the original nature of the research presented in this blog 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 work and the intellectual rights represented by the license of attribution attached are respected and considered by the scientist involved in this line of research. Any comment and feedback aimed to be constructive is welcome. 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, 2016. Filling in or Finding Out the gaps around. Publication accessed 20YY-MM-DD at
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90 Responses to Atmospheric Circulation and Climate Drift. Are we there yet? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

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  17. jaimesal says:

    Diego, you are using the terminology “Climate Drift”. Are you implying a rigorous definition of this terminology?


    • Hi Jaime,
      I am not sure on what is the “rigorous” definition of “climate Drift” that you might refer to.
      As part of the main body of the article I am trying to highlight how difficult it might seen to classify a “climate change” without knowing what is the “change” we are looking for. Is it a “statistically significant” “change”? for which variables? in which range of time? and location? which margin or threshold is defined and considered as the tipping point marking a “change”?.
      However, while we are looking for such extreme event to show up in charts, diagrams and models, followed by significant correlations between them, displacements from previous states of equilibrium, are being observed in different parts of the environment.
      Differently from numerical models which rely on conceptualizations incorporated in the design of the algorithms applied, biological niches appear indicating the state of a global interaction between biotic and none-biotic components. A niche refers to the way in which an organism fits into an ecological community or ecosystem. Through the process of natural selection, a niche is the evolutionary result of a species’ morphological, physiological, and behavioural adaptations to its surroundings.
      When natural species and niches start to appear where they were not before or by different numbers, it reflects a change in the conditions of the environment where they start to develop.
      These populations can migrate following the opportunistic generation of new spaces suitable for their development. Or even, in the same niche, some changes in environmental pressures can change the dominance between species since some may adapt faster than others to the new conditions.
      With respect to climatic regimes and niches, variability is part of the dynamic process allowing regeneration and perpetuation of a mature ecosystem in equilibrium. Like the succession of the seasons e.g. summer and winter, helps to control the pressure exerted between populations which perform differently in different conditions. The variability incorporated in these conditions becomes a mechanism of regulation moving around a pivoting point which allows the integrity of the system.
      When the climatic conditions linked with the development of a specific niche moves from the pivoting point far enough, the synergistic balance in the use and regeneration of resources and energy flows (biotic and none biotic) gets disrupted and requires modifications in the level of performance for all the components of the system.
      Looking for what it might be consider the “rigorous” terminology of climate drift I have found that “Stouffer and Dixon (1998) defined climate drift as an unforced trend away from some initial state, with the trend not being part of normally occurring variability about a constant mean state.”
      My point of view is that, if there is no agreement about using “climate change” as a terminology addressing the implications from seeing modifications (composition and behaviour) in so many parts of our environment (land, atmosphere/air and water (liquid, solid and vapour)), at least we might find common ground in identifying and/or studying the migration or “drift” of our climatic niches from previous regimes, either by addressing magnitudes, behaviour and/or location.
      Biological seasons (like breeding seasons or pollen seasons) are driven by thermodynamic fluctuations. Similarly occurs in the atmosphere with seasons defined by hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.
      In 2002 I started to be involved in the study of atmospheric dynamics driving the release and transport of biological particles. In this field called Aerobiology I did my PhD researching how atmospheric conditions affect the aerodynamic behaviour of pollen grains when airborne. And in 2008, I performed research (later published a paper) highlighting modifications in biological pollen seasons (start earlier and ends later) due to climatic alterations triggered from urbanization levels. Similarly, I have been observing and studying atmospheric dynamics from the last 4 years and I believe that seasons characterised by weather events are shifting their behaviour becoming more erratic. I discuss it also in the post “Aug 2016 Follow-up on previous assessments. Atmospheric Dynamics, Temperature Displacements, Atmospheric Mixing (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)” Posted on August 26, 2016
      My answer is not short but I hope that I have addressed your point and clarify my take.
      Thanks Jaime for commenting.


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