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Understanding the changing nature of marine cold-spells


Wang, Y and Kajtar, JB and Alexander, LV and Pilo, GS and Holbrook, NJ, Understanding the changing nature of marine cold-spells, Geophysical Research Letters, 49, (6) Article e2021GL097002. ISSN 0094-8276 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, ( which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

DOI: doi:10.1029/2021GL097002


Marine cold-spell (MCS) metrics—such as frequency and intensity—are decreasing globally, while marine heatwave (MHW) metrics are increasing due to sea surface temperature (SST) warming. However, the concomitant changes in MHW and MCS metrics, and whether SST warming can similarly explain the decreasing MCS metrics remain unclear. Here, we provide a comparative global assessment of these changes based on satellite SST observations over 1982–2020. Across the globe, we find distinct differences in mean MHW and MCS metrics. Furthermore, decreasing trends in MCS metrics are not necessarily aligned with increasing trends in MHW metrics. While differences in intensity trends are mainly explained by SST variance trends, differences in trends of annual days are less clear. Overall, decreasing MCS days and intensities are found to be largely driven by warming SST, rather than SST variance changes. Therefore, it is expected that MCS days and intensity will continue diminishing under global warming.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine cold-spells, marine heatwaves, sea surface temperature, climate change, trends, ocean temperature extremes
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Global effects of climate change (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Wang, Y (Ms Yuxin Wang)
UTAS Author:Kajtar, JB (Dr Jules Kajtar)
UTAS Author:Pilo, GS (Miss Gabriela Semolini Pilo)
UTAS Author:Holbrook, NJ (Professor Neil Holbrook)
ID Code:149268
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-03-23
Last Modified:2022-04-08
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