What if, the relevant bit lies hidden on identifying the pattern behind similarities instead of trying to match anomalies? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)


What if, the relevant bit lies hidden on identifying the pattern behind similarities instead of trying to match anomalies? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

Recently, on the 28th August 2015, we have observed three Low Pressures moving across the central equatorial Pacific. Those three Tropical Cyclones have occupied most of the tabloids in scientific social media. Such event of having coexisting three low and powerful cyclones in the Pacific has driven the attention of most people towards embracing the idea of that the actual increase in SST at the equatorial Pacific (ENSO) is the cause of these “trio of Tropical cyclones”. Altogether, the increase in Eq. Pacific SST and the observed formation of those cyclones, have been applied to focus our worries in making prevail the idea of forecasting El Niño as the solution to our climatic questions.

2015 Trio Low P Pacific

Three Low Tropical Pressures happening simoultameusly in the Central Equatorial Pacific in August 2005

However, is this the first time that we see this formation of three Lows in the Central Pacific? Actually, no. We have seen the same formation , in the same location, and even earlier in time just through the beginning of August last year 2014. Without the extreme values in SST that we see these days.

2014 Trio Low P Pacific

Why nobody, among all the people working in all the national agencies, with all the resources anybody can imagine, has spotted the similarities between these two situations?  And if they did, why nobody has highlighted such exceptional similarities?

I believe that there is more information coming from the exceptionality of understanding how it is possible the repetition of such complex event in years with different SST, than applying all focus of attention into expecting one single parameter, the temperature of the water, to resolve our questions in climatic developments.

First of all, it is assumed by everybody that the ENSO is a situation which is unclear how it gets developed. Atmospheric circulation and the MOC are both connected and the ENSO is just the visible, measurable and standardised concept that allow us to see “the back of an animal coming above the water’s surface”. We see that something happens but we don´t really know what it is.

Anomalies are standardised concepts. As such, and considering the limited capacity of perception that we can apply in modelling natural interconnections (lack of data and understanding in general of how to apply the data), they carry a very simple but relevant limitation. This limitation comes in the form of so called Type I and Type II errors.

All the Anomalies applied in climatic research have been “designed” to substitute the incapacity of identifying tangible “Thresholds”. In natural science, thresholds are those which define a change. But they are usually multivariate interdependent, and therefore, almost impossible to define accurately, and even less accessible to be modelled or predicted. Unless the magnitudes are too big, like being hit by a car makes find the threshold of having something broken with a high probability and no Type I or II errors.

So, since thresholds are so complex to identify, there are side effects, indicators, which can be applied as conceptual “signals” which allow us to understand the expression of complex interactions otherwise invisible to our senses. Like trying to know if a infrasonic whistle works requires a dog giving us the “signal”.

The ENSO and the NOA are standardised indexes which have being designed and modelled statistically towards framing in a tamed environment any possible reasoning. It seems that everything can be explained based on previous or predicted episodes of them but nothing can explain them. And that is where I see the conflict in the attitude applied to analyse, study and understand climatic developments.

In previous posts I have already discussed how “standardised” indexes (ENSO, NAO) and concepts (broken Polar Vortex is required to have a wobbly Jet Stream) have shown to be “limited”.

These days I have been surprised by the lack of attention being given to an event which has happened before without the extreme values of SST like those that we see in the actual times. And it seems to me that it is easier to follow what we don´t know but we can describe (SST-ENSO) than admitting that something has happen that we can see but we can not describe.

We can match episodes of “anomalies” with atmospheric events. A warmer ocean brings more humidity in the atmosphere of some regions so there is more rain, that is the “lighthouse” we can easily identify and follow. But we will need to finding more ways of looking at things than that. We might need to stop fixing our attention into looking at the lighthouse and pay more attention into the difficult task of recognising the relevance of the “small”, like the trio of low tropical pressures mentioned in this post.

Anomalies are poor substitutes of absolute values giving thresholds. Useful for a while but limited in scope.

Following the line of research that I have designed in this blog I would expose one example of a threshold hidden in the anomalies.

Considering that CO2 induces increases of Water vapour in the atmosphere, those increments of water vapour would allow the atmosphere to carry more energy.

One first threshold being reached would come from the constant friction between subtropical and polar latitudes, and the global circulation at high altitudes. That would ultimately reduce thermal contrasts (thus barriers) and induce an expansion in the distribution of the water vapour around (and the energy carried by) the globe in the vertical altitude, latitude and longitude. That would alter the dynamic behaviour of the atmosphere and the weather patterns associated. So far, that is what I have proposed already in previous posts.

Another threshold in an imaginary scenario would come from adding a persistent pressure over the atmosphere to keep increasing its capacity to carry energy by water vapour with endless supply of CO2. Following that path there could be a moment in which CO2 might not be necessary any more to keep the feedback loop between the atmosphere sucking water and weather events releasing energy. Enough water vapour in the atmosphere might carry enough energy to keep the energy cycle Ocean-Atmosphere by a positive feedback loop, thanks to its characteristics as greenhouse gas. But of course that is just too simple to be realistic. However, that kind of threshold would not be foreseen based on anomalies.

So, to conclude, I wonder:

what if, the relevant bit necessary to move forward in climatic studies, lies hidden on identifying the pattern behind similarities instead of trying to find a match that justify anomalies?

What was similar between 2014 and 2015 that originated three low pressures in the same location at the same time without having similar SST anomalies?

What made the winter of 2013/14 and the Winter 2014/15 behave similarly without having both a persistent Polar Vortex broken ? (more here)

What made Last Winter 2015 (December 2014, January and February 2015) to have categorised as a Positive NAO phase while 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?(more here)

How many meteorological events are getting repeated thought time and location but are going under the radar since they are not considered “relevant” as independent source of information, and yet, they are singularities in a chain reaction of bigger proportions?

Just a thought.

—- 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)gmail.com)

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):

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About Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.

Citing This Site "Title", published online "Month"+"Year", retrieved on "Month""Day", "Year" from http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com. By Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD. More guidance on citing this web as a source can be found at NASA webpage: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/bibliography/citations#! 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) gmail.com or consult my profile at LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu. 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 http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/
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