University Of Tasmania
149268 - Understanding the changing nature of marine cold-spells.pdf (3.85 MB)

Understanding the changing nature of marine cold-spells

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 06:29 authored by Yuxin WangYuxin Wang, Jules KajtarJules Kajtar, Alexander, LV, Gabriela Semolini Pilo, Neil HolbrookNeil Holbrook
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.


Publication title

Geophysical Research Letters





Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Geophysical Union

Place of publication

2000 Florida Ave Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20009

Rights statement

© 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.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Global effects of climate change (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) (excl. social impacts)