Atmospheric Circulation and the Mixing Zone. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

Atmospheric Circulation and the Mixing Zone. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

Back in July 2015, wildfires in Canada made the news due to their proportions. According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, more than 4,500 individual fires were observed in the first half of July and a total of 2.7 million acres banished up in smoke.

There are many points of view which could be applied to enumerate the implications derived from their devastating impact over communities and the biodiversity in the area where they occur. But furthermore, the smoke released can be applied to visually study the behaviour of gases and aerosols in our atmosphere through the streamlines generated.

Through my research I have kept a close look into the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream as the key feature pointing into the mechanisms and forces driving the atmospheric circulation in the North Hemisphere.

Thanks to the satellite imagery available, the 14th of July 2015 I published an article addressing the implications behind the observations available.

I used the visible trail drawn by the vast amounts of smoke released into the atmosphere by the wildfires to observe the behaviour of the gases and particles released and their interaction with atmospheric currents.

“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.

Some of those waves are visible thanks to the condensation of water but most often those waves are invisible. However, similarly as with experiments in a wind tunnel aimed to observe aerodynamic behaviours, here the smoke from fires allows us to see patterns in atmospheric circulation which we might not see otherwise…”

air stream lines by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

“… The 10th of July, the same day that the previous satellite images caught the smoke from Canadian wildfires in atmospheric circulation, I was looking at the state of the overheated atmosphere in Southern Europe. Among other resources I was looking at the real time images being broadcast by the International Space Station (there is a link and video streaming on the right side of this blog). During its fly over the North Atlantic (from west to east) the ISS had operational the camera facing backwards. The next image shows the state of the atmosphere over the North west Atlantic where we can see the grey trail of smoke getting spread in a wide whirlpool at stratospheric circulation. (link Here)”

Black smoke Canadian fires stratosferic circulation by Diego FdezSevilla

Source ESA.

In May 2016, Wildfires in Canada made the news, again…

2 canada fires may 2016 Diego Fdez-Sevilla

On May 5, 2016 at 0956 UTC (5:56 a.m. EDT), the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired a night-time image of the Fort McMurray wildfire by using its “day-night band” to sense the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. In the image, the brightest parts of the fire appear white while smoke appears light gray.(NASA’s blog)

5 May 2016. NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP Satellite Sees Massive Alberta Wildfire Day and Night. (Link )

The 10th of May 2016, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the clouds over Canada.  Entwined within the clouds is the smoke billowing up from the wildfires that are currently burning across a large expanse of the country.  The smoke has become entrained within the clouds causing it to twist within the circular motion of the clouds and wind.  This image was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Aqua satellite on May 9, 2016.

10 May 2016. Smoke From Canadian Wildfires Trapped in Clouds. Link.

By the 11th of May 2016, the huge forest fire that prompted the evacuation of Fort McMurray  burned more than 884 square miles of land and destroyed some 2,400 homes and other buildings.

An image from space showing the smoke plume from a forest fire that engulfed a Canadian city and force thousands to evacuate shows just how staggering the impact of the blaze has been. Jeff Williams, a Nasa astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS), shared the image on his Twitter feed with the caption: “Canadian smoke plume.”

Same day 11th May 2016 I was looking at the images being broadcast by the ISS

Satellite observation. 11 May 2016 Atlantic Diego Fdez-Sevilla Medm

Atmospheric Circulation and the Mixing Zone.

(from previous publication) “I believe that the previous images offer a vivid illustration of how easily plumes of air being generated over land, containing diverse composition of gases and aerosols (in this case COx and ashes from the combustion of wood), get introduced high in atmospheric circulation.

In the actual times, the relevance of such assessment is a matter of open discussion. Some points of view defend that the atmosphere can take almost everything that activities overland might generate without the patterns followed in global atmospheric circulation suffering any major alteration over time. Personally, based on my limited knowledge, I do not see it as an accurate point of view.”

The instability over the configuration of the Polar Jet Stream is showing to be a more permanent and stronger configuration than any variations over the ENSO or any other atmospheric indices applied until today. Meanwhile the ENSO, NAO, PDO, etc… keep oscillating over time, the Polar Jet Stream has been wobbling year after year for a period of time which has not been characterised yet even though I believe that the data available shows already its impact over the North Hemispheric ecosystems.

Water vapor_Temp and NDVI Anomalies North 60 N

The results obtained from my research suggest strongly that the energy been captured  by GHGs in the atmosphere would allow equatorial and mid-latitude circulation to expand over the Polar circulation in an intrusive way. Such intrusions would increment the energy pool of the Polar masses of air debilitating the thermal contrast which generates the Polar Jet Stream.

But at the same time, an increase in the amount of energy being captured by GHGs would induce different types of developments. I have discussed most of them in previous publications,  but some of those implicated in recent events could be the following:

  • An increase in temperature would allow an expansion of the volume occupied by masses of air between polar Jet Streams extending the influence of Hadley circulation and weathering off the thermal contrast between Polar and Mid latitudinal circulation.
  • Also an increase of temperature due to GHGs would allow the atmosphere to carry more water vapour. Water can absorb more amounts of energy than other greenhouse gases with the particularity of having a minor time of permanency in the atmosphere. Such particularity implies that water has the property of absorbing, carrying and releasing energy between locations, and therefore, it becomes part of a mechanism  transferring energy through the whole globe.
  • Having an increase in the energy pool available in the atmosphere will induce changes in the interaction between phenomena for which their origin, time permanency and stability lies on contrast with its surrounding. Thus, persistent features will become more frequent since in order to release their energy into the surroundings and disappear will become more difficult. But also, the moment in which the conditions allow for  the atmosphere to discharge its cargo, the amount of energy ready to be liberated could easily overcome any expectations. Already we can see some example of such potential through blocking patterns and persistent cyclones moving through latitudes and longitudes. In  the most recent weeks, we have been able to observe how three low pressures have positioned in front of the Iberian Peninsula and kept stationary for days.

19 April 2016 Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) z500-PRMSL


9 May 2016 Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) z500-PRMSL


26 May 2016. Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) z500-PRMSL

Continuity from previous research

The turbulent motion of the Polar Jet Stream has increased its mixing velocity with the masses of air interacting with the Polar Jet stream. This situation has mostly diluted the plume of smoke generated in Canada through previous days and yet, the 21st May 2016, smoke from western wildfires could be easily seen across the Atlantic Ocean.

21 May 2016 Atlantic Mixing Jet Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Plume smoke Atlantic

Source NASA here.

From previous publication:

Climate and Hadley Circulation. Research Update May 2016 (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.) 2016/05/06

The incorporation of gases and aerosols into atmospheric circulation at equator and mid-latitudes (wild fires/industry) enhance the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere. Such effect increases the capacity for the atmosphere to carry energy, mostly identified in the form of temperature (but not only). An elevation of temperature in the atmosphere increments the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb and transport a strong natural GHG’s which is water on its gaseous form. The process of evaporating water captures energy within water molecules. This energy gets incorporated in the energetic pool of the atmosphere as thermal energy (latent heat) also with the mass of water molecules increasing the gravitational energy available. The difference between the thermal energy carried by masses of air generate winds and ultimately, it is such contrast makes the fuel for the kinetic energy generating Jet Currents like the Polar Jet stream.

My approach, data, observations and analyses indicate that the weakening of the North Polar Jet Stream is not due to processes of early snow precipitation as it proposes the theory of Artic Amplification, but instead, due to the weathering effect exerted by warmer mid-latitudes pushing towards the Poles.

Considering atmospheric and terrestrial interactions conformed by Biotic and non-biotic components and processes, and based on the developments pointed out through my research, those synergistic interactions have the potential to develop patterns in environmental evolution which will be sustained only temporally, in a period of transition.

Since the Arctic has the lowest energy pool of the entire North Hemisphere, and any process of amplification requires an investment of energy aside the energy being received, the conclusions delivered by my line of research dismisses any type of amplification in the Arctic circulation. Moreover, following the arguments applied in previous discussions over atmospheric dynamics and ENSO circulation, the amount of energy being absorbed at the Arctic would have an indirect effect over the conditions at the most energised part of the atmosphere, the Equator. There, at the Equator, is where we might see in the near future, the use of energy amplifying processes yet being considered too mild to become relevant.

Some other current atmospheric events seem to support previous assessments. The location of the highs over the Pacific and the Atlantic are the same to as previous years and two low pressures have been hovering in the last month over the Atlantic and in front the Iberian peninsula, with enough energy to make them resilient in time and active through days, without dissipating their energy or being displaced to the East.

Until the 26th May 2016, the number of Low Pressures hovering over the Atlantic have increased with a new low system located in the same location in front of the Iberian peninsula as to the previous ones. But if we look at the start of the transition out of Earth’s tilt winter 2016, we can count the first low pressure moving through latitudes at middle north Atlantic in January with the storm called Alex.

Furthermore, contrasts of temperature continue to be associated with the behaviour of the weak Polar Jet Stream in agreement with previous assessments which point to a seasonal transitions driven by the frequency of isolated masses of air crossing in Latitude between mid-latitudes and polar circulation.

Eumetsat Natural Colour Diego FdezSevilla

Polar displacements derived from mid-latitude intrusions on the 8th January and 17th February 2016

23 May 2016 Atlantic Europe Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Polar displacements triggered due to mid-latitudinal intrusions on 23rd May 2016

GFS T2anom from 2016-05-16 Diego Fdez-Sevilla

Understanding the ways how Mid-Latitudinal circulation affects the Polar circulation will help to understand other meteorological phenomena evolving through the whole hemisphere, including  the development of T-Storms and tornadoes over North America (image showing conditions over 23rd May 2016),

North Hemispheric circulation Atlantic 23 May 2016 by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

the development of cold bursts out of season, head waves like the ones occurring at India last May 2015 and the present May 2016 or the heat waves moving northwards across Europe in 2015 (see following image, charts by Giulio Betti).

1st week monthly intervals Temp Anomaly Wester Europe 2015 by Diego Fdez-Sevilla

I believe that also will help to understand the bipolarity seeing over the behaviour found between the Arctic and Antarctic developments.

Within the limitations (an freedom) of performing my line of research independently from any institution and single handed the level of confidence that I have over my assessments are described by the following chart:

Diegto Fdez-Sevilla

Timing the pace at which our environment evolves is crucial in order to adopt measures to adapt and mitigate possible synergistic interactions between human activities and threats raising from environmental changes.

The dynamics shown in the integration of the smoke originated by wildfires into atmospheric circulation indicates how fast the mixing rate at the mixing zone absorbs everything being released into the atmosphere. Now we only can expect that variations in the composition of the atmosphere will also trigger variations over its behaviour and the pace at which process develop, in other words, variations in speed and maybe even directionality. And all of that in conjunction with other factors such as albedo, SST and the interaction from biological processes.

If you want to know more over my assessments over those interactions you should follow the links through the present text and explore the other publications and categories described in the top menu of in this blog.

The aim of publishing my work openly is to allow for it to be exposed for an open review. So any constructive feedback is welcome. After a period of time of at least a month from the publishing date on this blog and at LinkedIn, if no comments are found discussing the value of the piece published I then publish it at ResearchGate generating a DOI for posterior references.

In order to protect my intellectual rights, more assessment in depth and the statistical and numerical analyses that I have performed to support my arguments can be discussed at my email: d.fdezsevilla(at)


The performance of my work as independent researcher is limited by my access to resources and economic stability. So far what I have published in this blog is what I have been able to offer with those limitations. If you want the best of me, share your thoughts because in order to keep going and improve my work, somebody will have to invest in me.

PerspectiveSince 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 posts addressing those events from previous publications in this blog or look at the categories in the top menu. Also at research-gate. Feedback is always welcomed either in this blog or at my email (d.fdezsevilla(at) All my work is part of my Intellectual Portfolio, registered under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, license and it is being implemented at my profile in researchgate. I will fight for its recognition in case of misuse.


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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54 Responses to Atmospheric Circulation and the Mixing Zone. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

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