Something for the curious minds. Climate and Streamlines (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD)

Something for the curious minds. Climate and Streamlines (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD)

An important concept in the study of our climate concerns the idea of air flows moving in the atmosphere. These air flows are generated by thermal contrasts and are the ones responsible for the mixture and dispersion of gases and aerosols. It is the mechanism that tries to homogenize the composition and thermal gradients of the atmosphere at each hemisphere and around the globe.

A streamline is a path traced out by a massless particle as it moves with the flow. And our atmosphere is a constant tangle of flows carrying gases and aerosols which we can trace.

As air flows throughout the atmosphere atmospheric waves are often generated describing the dynamic behaviour of a fluid. Accordingly, those patterns are quite similar to ripples in a pond or eddies in a river. But furthermore, if the flow is laminar (like straight hair) or turbulent (curly hair), it can also give us indirect information about the thermal conditions (stability, etc) and homogeneity in the composition (water vapour… ) of the air. And changes in those visual patterns usually help to locate “factors” generating weather events (e.g. weather fronts, cyclonic circulation and adiabatic processes). Those can be when two or more different (thermally or water content dry/humid) masses of air get in contact or even when orographic features interfere with tropospheric circulation inducing changes in those air masses due to e.g. changes in pressure and thermal gradients in altitude.

The use of visual media can be approached in very sophisticated ways applying mathematical interpretations of several variables. However, the capabilities of algorithms are limited in order to identify patterns and sometimes, it is the human eye combined with the power of the brain what make the most of visual materials.

Some examples of streamlines in our atmosphere have appeared in previous posts with smoke from Canadian wildfires moving in the atmosphere following the streamlines of the Polar Jet stream:

Canadian fires 10 July Aqua Modis

and water vapour in the atmosphere above Europe before the atmospheric instability above Venice developed in a tornado:

Venice Event Tornado by Diego fdez-Sevilla

Water vapour behaviour at the upper atmosphere (at about 100hPa) 6.2 channel. I believe that what it triggered the supercell was the “touch” of the jet stream moving down in the vertical profile. That is where the 300hPa isolines get separated at 1800UTC. Since water vapour is present al lower latitudes, the touch of cold air moving down from the jet stream provokes a thermal shock activating the energy contained by the water vapour at lower levels, igniting the cell and associated processes.(Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

These images help to visually identify the state of the atmosphere in those locations where the plume of molecules under visual and infra-red wavelengths describe the laminar conditions of the air currents carrying those molecules (gases and aerosols).

Similarly, these visual properties which are applied in climatological and atmospheric studies are also the ones scientists and engineers use when they talk about wind tunnels.

Back in 2007 I was the lead scientist in a project looking at the aerodynamic behaviour of pollen grains and their impact over the efficiency of particle samplers used to monitor their concentration in the atmosphere. And as part of this study I also used a wind tunnel to look into the state of the stream lines of the current of air carrying those particles inside the sampler inlet:

air stream lines sigma-2 by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Another example of using visual traces of streamlines to study our environment happen aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The science of opportunity series of applied experiments and demonstrations revealed some remarkable visual footages and findings.

In the following video clip, astronaut Dr. Don Pettit demonstrates laminar flow in a rotating film of water. The demonstration is done by placing tracer particles in a water film held in place by a round wire loop, then stirring the system rotationally. The resulting flow clearly demonstrates laminar 2D behaviour with spiralling streamlines.

This video is visually cool and contains also some inside tips on fluid dynamics for curious minds of all levels.

Combining visual conceptualization with numerical analyses and models we look at the movement of the air in our atmosphere and its composition, trying to understand its behaviour. That help us to study globally the patterns of weather events that makes what we call our climate.

  • From a wind tunnel to open environment

air stream lines by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

  • Combining Numerical and Visual

Numerical and visual by Diego Fdez-SevillaAnd all of that with one aim:

  • to understand where is our climate coming from,
  • where it is now and
  • how can the strong capacity of human activities to transform the composition of our air, soil and water influence the drifting patterns of our near future climate.


Temperature anomalies Sea Surface and 2 m Surface.

GFS-025deg_WORLD-CED_T2_anom GFS-025deg_WORLD-CED2_SST_anom

Persistent intrusion of extreme hot air into Northern latitudes over Europe 2015.

1st week monthly intervals Temp Anomaly Wester Europe 2015 by Diego Fdez-SevillaWinter 2014-2015. Conceptualised associated patterns of the NAO did not happen in 2015.

NAO 2015_DJF NOAA by Diego FdezSevilla

Last Winter 2015 (December 2014, January and February 2015) was categorised as a Positive NAO phase. However, the atmospheric patterns associated were a combination of a Positive phase where above average geopotential heights are observed over the eastern U.S. and a Negative phase with below average temperatures across eastern U.S.

2015 NAO Phases composition by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Conceptualised patterns associated with the NAO

 Increasing conc of CO2


There is a misconception adopted from observed increasing measurements of atmospheric CO2 and its potential boost on photosynthetic activity. Ecosystem effects of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 will depend on the nutrient status of specific forests. Increased forest production will occur where soils contain adequate nitrogen. In areas where nitrogen is limiting, elevated CO2 levels will not increase the growth of trees — even though photosynthesis may increase. Without sufficient nitrogen, the trees cannot use the additional CO2 for growth. The additional carbon is used by soil organisms and respired to the atmosphere. In addition to contributing to CO2 buildup in the atmosphere such changes in the soil foodweb, which controls nutrient availability for plants, could have long-term effects on ecosystem functioning.

Land Cover and Use transformation

Land Cover and Use transformation affect interactions between biological productivity and Atmospheric processes as well as the water cycle and soil microbiota.

16 July 2015 Fires by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Wildfires release COx gasses and aerosols, destroy photosynthetic capabilities to fix Carbon and soil microbiota and changes soil structure.

CREDIT: ERLE ELLIS, ADAPTED FROM E. ELLIS, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A, 369:1010 (2011) From the Science article “A global perspective on the anthropocene” DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6052.34

And yet, even knowing that human activity is having an impact over the environment there is still the question of how much part it plays the activity of our Sun.

Our Sun is the supplier of energy into our system. Responsible for Quantity and Quality. And man, by domesticating nature, has become the manager of this energy. (more in a next post)

Solar activity anthropogenic change by Diego FdezSevilla

—- 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)

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
This entry was posted in Aerobiology, Aerosols, Air, Biological productivity, Energy Balance, Environmental Resilience, Extreme climatic events, Filling in, Finding out, Influence of Continentality, Inland Water Bodies and Water Cycle, Polar vortex and Jet Stream, Solar activity, Water vapour and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to Something for the curious minds. Climate and Streamlines (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD)

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