Atmospheric Dynamics And Shapes (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

Atmospheric Dynamics And Shapes (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

meteosat-natural_overlay-vector-overlay 8 Jan 2016

8th January 11.00 UTC. Image from Eumetsat

This image from Eumetsat shows in a nicely way how two masses of air of different density interact giving the shape of a mushroom. Sure you have seen this shape in many other places, when you serve a drop or milk into coffee, when you breath out some steam into cold air in winter… it also happens when barriers like tissues exudate aqueous substances through pores, like your skin or in pollen grains. In this case, North America is blowing air into the ear of Europe.

Eumetsat calls the technique used in this image Natural Colour. The Natural Colour RGB (Red, Green, Blue) makes use of three solar channels: NIR1.6, VIS0.8 and VIS0.6. In this colour scheme vegetation appears greenish because of its large reflectance in the VIS0.8 channel (the green beam) compared to the NIR1.6 (red beam) and VIS0.6 (blue beam) channels. Water clouds with small droplets have large reflectance at all three channels and hence appear whitish, while snow and ice clouds appears cyan because ice strongly absorbs in NIR1.6 (no red). Bare ground appears brown because of the larger reflectance in the NIR1.6 than at VIS0.6, and the ocean appears black because of the low reflectance in all three channels.

Even though the shape resembles somehow the mushroom shape coming from an atomic explosion,  in atmospheric circulation this shape has different interpretations from what it happens in an atomic blast. We have to keep in mind that even though this image shows a 2D pattern, there is a three dimensional interaction in altitude between masses of air with different densities. Rayleigh-Taylor Instabilities play a key role in this image, altogether with rotation and kinetic energy as the main factors. A subject which can be studied with complex maths but also intuitively understanding some basic concepts.

But what really does it means for weather? See the following video from the Met Office.

Now we can look at the temperature for those masses of air moving in the satellite image. The Airmass product is an RGB (Red, Green, Blue) composite based upon data from infrared and water vapour channels from the SEVIRI instrument. It is designed and tuned to monitor the distribution of different air masses and evolution of cyclones, in particular rapid cyclogenesis, jet streaks and PV (potential vorticity) anomalies. Due to the incorporation of the water vapour and ozone channels, its usage at highest satellite viewing angles is limited. The Airmass RGB is composed from data from a combination of the SEVIRI WV6.2, WV7.3, IR9.7 and IR10.8 channels.

meteosat-airmass Eumetsat Diego Fdez-Sevilla

8th January. Image from Eumetsat

Northwestern Spain faces flooding rain this weekend

By Courtney Spamer, Meteorologist. January 9, 2016; 6:10 AM ET

The combination of a wet start to 2016 and more rain to follow this weekend has those in northwestern Spain on alert for flooding problems this weekend.

A pair of cold fronts will bring persistent rain to Galicia, Castile y Leon, Asturias and Cantabria this weekend. The rain will pour down heavily at times.

“This weekend, rainfall amounts of 25-75 mm (1-3 inches) will be widespread across northwestern Spain,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said. “But locally higher amounts up to 130 mm (about 5 inches) are also possible.” The highest rainfall totals and greatest risk for flooding will be in Galicia.

Accordingly with what it was expected severe flooding was predicted and indeed occurred in the NorthWestern part of the Iberian peninsula. In particular, Galicia is the region above Portugal in the Northwest of Spain where actually I am located. Not only I have seen rain in high quantities, and strong winds. It also surprised me to see lightings in January.

It has been reported amounts of 60L/m2 and wind gusts above 140 Km/h. The following video shows images from National TV news report in spanish published the 9th Jan 2016. Also many problems have raised in northern parts of Portugal due to this intrusion, and it comes to add more flooding issues to those suffered in December in UK.

Author comments

Very often we get trapped under the latest developments and there is a tendency to replace old information with new, more exuberant news. This constant replacement of “old” information with “new” alters the perception of linearity since it cuts any continuous momentum by generating a sense of seeing the new, the most recent as the more important and the focus of all attention.

I want to add some perspective here, with this article, over the significance of the events generating floods over Western Europe between December and January 2015/16. In order to asses the implications of such phenomena it is important to consider the inertial momentum that we are living in the developments of our atmospheric weather events, from considering each one independently to a continuous whole. (see more)

Issues related with severe flooding over western Europe, such as those we have seen already in the winter 2015/16, have been seen and discussed about the winter 2013/14.

See the following news report from euronews Published the 10th feb. 2014 claiming that 2014 was turning out to be the wettest English Winter in 250 years.

Similarly for California, EEUU March 2014

Past and Present

If we consider the recent weather events as an occurrence independent from inertial momentum in our global changing environment we might just have enough justification by looking at the SST recorded at the Equatorial Pacific. In that way we can justify this anomaly in sea surface temperatures as the major factor shaping atmospheric events.

However, if we consider the present atmospheric phenomenons as part of a continuous movement and we compare them with those seen since at least winter 2013/14 and winter 2014/15, I believe that there is a high probability of that there is not a new shape in the pattern followed due to Pacific SST but a common pattern throughout the last 3 years which only changes in frequency and intensity.

This approach releases ENSO from being a dominant feature driving atmospheric circulation and gives to it a subsidiary  role. From my research since 2013 over climatic developments, I strongly believe that the main driver in atmospheric circulation are the properties defining the thermal contrast between mid-latitudes and polar circulation. Hence, the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream dictates the behaviour of the circulation in our atmosphere. And localized perturbations, like the sign of the ENSO, would only contribute to the frequency and intensity of the weather events generated due to the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream. Behaviour which is ultimately defined by the composition of the atmosphere and the subsequent GHGs involved.

As I said in a different post, I believe that the behaviour of the atmosphere leads and the rest of the mediums follow. An increase in SST at the Pacific would induce more water vapour in the atmosphere, but its distribution and release will be defined by the conditions and behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream, which it has been behaving erratically with and without positive ENSO.

ENSO in contrast

Since October 2013 I have been studying the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream and the weather events associated as well as the implications derived into atmospheric dynamics and environmental synergies.

Many of the atmospheric configurations and weather and climate events we see these days are very similar with the progression followed since 2013. Please take a look at publications addressing those events from previous publications in this blog or look at the categories in the top menu. Feedback is always welcomed.


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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