Publications by Yavor Kostov

Contributions of greenhouse gas forcing and the southern annular mode to historical southern ocean surface temperature trends

Geophysical Research Letters Wiley 45 (2018) 1086-1097

Y Kostov, D Ferreira, KC Armour, J Marshall

We examine the 1979-2014 Southern Ocean (SO) sea surface temperature (SST) trends simulated in an ensemble of coupled general circulation models and evaluate possible causes of the models’ inability to reproduce the observed 1979-2014 SO cooling. For each model we estimate the response of SO SST to step changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing and in the seasonal indices of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Using these step-response functions, we skillfully reconstruct the models’ 1979-2014 SO SST trends. Consistent with the seasonal signature of the Antarctic ozone hole and the seasonality of SO stratification, the summer and fall SAM exert a large impact on the simulated SO SST trends. We further identify conditions that favor multidecadal SO cooling: 1) a weak SO warming response to GHG forcing; 2) a strong multidecadal SO cooling response to a positive SAM trend; 3) a historical SAM trend as strong as in observations.

Fast and slow responses of Southern Ocean sea surface temperature to SAM in coupled climate models

Climate Dynamics Springer 48 (2016) 1595-1609

Y Kostov, J Marshall, U Hausmann, KC Armour, D Ferreira, MM Holland

We investigate how sea surface temperatures (SSTs) around Antarctica respond to the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) on multiple timescales. To that end we examine the relationship between SAM and SST within unperturbed preindustrial control simulations of coupled general circulation models (GCMs) included in the Climate Modeling Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5). We develop a technique to extract the response of the Southern Ocean SST (55°S–70°S) to a hypothetical step increase in the SAM index. We demonstrate that in many GCMs, the expected SST step response function is nonmonotonic in time. Following a shift to a positive SAM anomaly, an initial cooling regime can transition into surface warming around Antarctica. However, there are large differences across the CMIP5 ensemble. In some models the step response function never changes sign and cooling persists, while in other GCMs the SST anomaly crosses over from negative to positive values only 3 years after a step increase in the SAM. This intermodel diversity can be related to differences in the models’ climatological thermal ocean stratification in the region of seasonal sea ice around Antarctica. Exploiting this relationship, we use observational data for the time-mean meridional and vertical temperature gradients to constrain the real Southern Ocean response to SAM on fast and slow timescales.

Sensitivity of Antarctic sea ice to the Southern Annular Mode in coupled climate models

Climate Dynamics Springer 49 (2016) 1813-1831

J Marshall, MM Holland, L Landrum, Y Kostov

We assess the sea ice response to Southern Annular Mode (SAM) anomalies for pre-industrial control simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Consistent with work by Ferreira et al. (J Clim 28:1206–1226, 2015. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00313.1), the models generally simulate a two-timescale response to positive SAM anomalies, with an initial increase in ice followed by an eventual sea ice decline. However, the models differ in the cross-over time at which the change in ice response occurs, in the overall magnitude of the response, and in the spatial distribution of the response. Late twentieth century Antarctic sea ice trends in CMIP5 simulations are related in part to different modeled responses to SAM variability acting on different time-varying transient SAM conditions. This explains a significant fraction of the spread in simulated late twentieth century southern hemisphere sea ice extent trends across the model simulations. Applying the modeled sea ice response to SAM variability but driven by the observed record of SAM suggests that variations in the austral summer SAM, which has exhibited a significant positive trend, have driven a modest sea ice decrease. However, additional work is needed to narrow the considerable model uncertainty in the climate response to SAM variability and its implications for 20th–21st century trends.