ArticlePDF Available

A composite sea surface temperature record of the northern South China Sea for the past 2500 years: A unique look into seasonality and seasonal climate changes during warm and cold periods


Abstract and Figures

High-resolution late Holocene climate records that can resolve seasonality are essential for confirming past climatic dynamics, understanding the late 20th century global warming and predicting future climate. Here a new composite record of the sea surface temperature, SST, variation in the northern South China Sea (SCS) during the late Holocene is constructed by combining seven seasonally-resolved coral and Tridacna gigas Sr/Ca-based SST time-windows with the instrumental SST record from modern interval between 1990 and 2000. This composite multi-proxy marine record, together with the reconstructions from mainland China and tropical Western Pacific, indicates that the late Holocene warm periods, the Roman Warm Period (RWP) and Medieval Warm Period (MWP), were prominently imprinted and documented in the climatic and environmental history of the East Asia–Western Pacific region. Meanwhile, substantial and significant SST seasonality variations during the late Holocene were observed in the composite record. The observed increase in seasonality (or amplitude of seasonal cycles) during the cold periods around our study area was probably caused by the different amplitudes between winter versus summer SST variations in northern SCS, with much larger SST variation during winters than during summers for the late Holocene. In addition, the distinctive warm, cold and neutral climatic episodes identified in our northern SCS composite SST record correspond well with other paleo reconstructions from mainland China and especially well with the Northern Hemisphere-wide composites by Moberg et al. (2005) and Ljungqvist (2010). The overall agreement however also calls for more information and insights on how seasonal temperatures and their ranges vary on decadal–centennial timescales.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A composite sea surface temperature record of the northern South China
Sea for the past 2500 years: A unique look into seasonality and seasonal
climate changes during warm and cold periods
Hong Yan
, Willie Soon
State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710075, China
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Department of Chemistry and Laser Chemistry Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 4 July 2014
Accepted 7 December 2014
Available online 13 December 2014
South China Sea
Tridacna gigas
Sea surface temperature
Seasonal climate
Late Holocene
High-resolution late Holocene climate records that can resolve seasonality are essential for conrming past cli-
matic dynamics, understanding the late 20th century global warming and predicting future climate. Here a
new compositerecord of the sea surfacetemperature, SST, variation in the northern South China Sea (SCS)during
the late Holocene is constructed by combining seven seasonally-resolved coral and Tridacna gigas Sr/Ca-based
SST time-windows with the instrumental SST record from modern interval between 1990 and 2000. This com-
posite multi-proxy marine record, together with the reconstructions from mainland China and tropical Western
Pacic, indicates that the late Holocene warm periods, the Roman Warm Period (RWP) and Medieval Warm Pe-
riod (MWP),were prominently imprinted and documented in the climatic and environmental history of the East
AsiaWestern Pacic region. Meanwhile,substantial and signicant SST seasonality variations duringthe late Ho-
locene were observed inthe composite record. The observedincrease in seasonality (or amplitude of seasonal cy-
cles) during the cold periods around our study area was probably caused by the different amplitudes between
winter versus summer SST variations in northern SCS, with much larger SST variation during winters than during
summers for the late Holocene. In addition, the distinctive warm, cold and neutral climatic episodes identied in
our northern SCS composite SST record correspond well with other paleo reconstructions from mainland China
and especially well with the Northern Hemisphere-wide composites by Moberg et al. (2005) and Ljungqvist
(2010). The overall agreement however also calls for more information and insights on how seasonal tempera-
tures and their ranges vary on decadalcentennial timescales.
© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction.............................................................. 123
2. Materialandmethods ......................................................... 123
2.1. Regionalsetting ......................................................... 123
2.2. Datasources .......................................................... 124
2.3. Themethodofcompositing ................................................... 126
3. Resultsanddiscussion ......................................................... 126
3.1. Acompositeproxy-SSTrecordinthenorthernSCSduringthelateHolocene ............................. 126
3.2. Intercomparison with other SST proxies from tropical Western Pacic ................................ 126
3.3. Distribution of RWP and MWP in the Asia-Pacicregionwithacomparisontootherregions ...................... 127
3.4. VariationoftheSSTseasonalityintheSCSduringthelateHoloceneanditsrelationshipwiththemeanclimatestate ........... 128
3.5. DifferentamplitudesofsummerandwinterSSTvariationsduringthelateHolocene .......................... 130
3.6. MechanismforthedifferentvariationamplitudesofthesummerandwinterSSTduringthelateHolocene................ 131
4. Conclusions .............................................................. 133
Acknowledgment .............................................................. 134
References ................................................................. 134
Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (H. Yan).
0012-8252/© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Earth-Science Reviews
journal homepage:
1. Introduction
High-resolution climate reconstructions during the late Holocene,
especially during the past 2000 years, can provide a timely opportunity
to place the current global warming in a long-term context and help un-
derstand the importance of natural and anthropogenic forcings on past
and future climate changes. Many recent works have focused on the cli-
matic changes during this time period, but the complete characteristic
of the seasonal climate during the late Holocene, aswell as the historical
status of the late 20th century global warming, remain debated (IPCC,
2001; Esper et al., 2002; Ge et al., 2003; Soon et al., 2003; IPCC, 2007;
Wang et al., 2007). The insufciencies of the currently available proxy
data for the late Holocene are the major cause of ongoing debates and
controversies. For example, although more than 1200 proxy reconstruc-
tions were used in the compilation of Mann et al. (2008), only 25 re-
cords cover the last 2000 years. Meanwhile, most of the proxy records
are derived from the mid and high latitudes of the Northern Hemi-
sphere, and the temperature reconstructions from the Southern Hemi-
sphere and tropics are less common (IPCC, 2007; Mann et al., 2008,
2009). Furthermore, while tree-ring-proxy records during the late Holo-
cene have been built for the vast terrestrial area over the last 20 years,
high-resolution proxy ocean temperature records of the late Holocene
are still very limited. Thus a more concerted study on proxy records of
the late Holocene for the past 20003000 years, in particular high-
resolution, seasonally-resolved, ocean temperature records from South-
ern Hemisphere and tropics, are needed.
In addition to the variations of mean climatic state [see e.g., two early
papers for discussion on the inadequacy of the current denition and
framework basing on the statistical 30-year averages (Landsberg,
1972; Guttman, 1989)], the seasonal and sub-seasonal changes of cli-
mate conditions are the primary component and physical descriptor of
Earth's climate system (Kukla and Gavin, 2004; Denton et al., 2005;
Soon, 2009). The information of past seasonal and sub-seasonal changes
in different weather regimes and climatic states is the key for a compre-
hensive understanding of past climatic dynamics and for predicting fu-
ture climate. However, except the coral recordsin tropical area, most of
proxy-based climate records have temporal resolution insufcient for
quantifying temperature seasonality.
The fast-growing marine biogenic carbonates, such as corals and
mollusks, are sensitive to surrounding environmental changes in most
aquatic settings, and they have the potential to sample the full seasonal
range of past sea surface temperature (SST) and were used extensively
to provide high-resolution seasonal/monthly climate records from tro-
pics to high latitudes for the past 30 years (Williams et al., 1982; Cole
et al., 1993; Gagan et al., 1994; McCulloch et al., 1994; Schöne et al.,
2004a,b; Watanabe et al., 2004; Schöne et al., 2005; Wanamaker et al.,
2008; Aubert et al., 2009; Elliot et al., 2009; Maier and Titschack,
2010; Batenburg et al., 2011; Wanamaker et al., 2011). These seasonal
and sub-seasonal proxy-climate records, together with lower resolution
marine sediment records, have greatly improved our understanding of
the past climate changes in global oceanduring the late Holocene. How-
ever, the time spans of themarine biogenic carbonate records, typically
less than 200 years for most of the reported records, are too short to
cover the whole late Holocene, and thus limiting the use of high resolu-
tion marine carbonate records to reconstruct the climatic history of late
Holocene and assess the past climatic dynamics.
In order to overcome the short time-duration limit of the bio-
carbonate records, several recent studies have tried to concatenate
some short bio-carbonate archives together in order to produce longer
composite climate records (Cobb et al., 2003; Yu et al., 2005; Patterson
et al., 2010; Wanamaker et al., 2011; Giry et al., 2013). For example,
Cobb et al. (2003) reconstructed the El Niño-Southern Oscillation
(ENSO) variability covering the past millennium using several coral
O time windows from mid-Pacic(Cobb et al., 2003). Yu et al.
(2005) discussed the mid-to-late Holocene monsoonal climate in
South China Sea based on the Sr/Ca chemical ratio and δ
O of several
coral records. Recently, the North Atlantic seawater temperature sea-
sonality variations during the past two millennia, concatenated from
about 26 time windows, were investigated using some bivalve shell ar-
chives (Patterson et al., 2010; Wanamaker et al., 2011). These studies
highlighted the potential of compositing bio-carbonate records in
order to reconstruct high-resolution climate history of the world
ocean and for providing the most important historical and geological
context for judging the current climatic changes. We followed similar
approach in producing our composite SST record for northern SCS cov-
ering the past 2500 years.
South China Sea, SCS, is the largest marginal sea of thewestern trop-
ical Pacic(Fig. 1). The seasonal climate variation in the SCS is largely
controlled by the East Asian Monsoon; but on inter-annual timescales,
it is probably dominated by tropical Pacic ENSO conditions (Yan
et al., 2010, 2011). Climate records from SCS are thus important for in-
vestigating the interactions between tropical climate and the Northern
Hemisphere high latitudes. However, climate characteristics of the SCS
during the late Holocene are still somewhat unclear because there are
insufcient numbers and types of paleoclimate proxies available.
The coral Sr/Ca-based SST reconstructions in SCS have been system-
atically developed in recent decades and a series of paleo-SST records is
reported to reect high-time-resolution Holocene climate history (Wei
et al., 2004a,b; Yu et al., 2004, 2005; Wei et al., 2007; Deng et al., 2009).
In addition to the coral records, Tridacna gigas, the biggest marine bi-
valves in the SCS region,was also used to reconstruct thehigh resolution
climate history in the South China Sea. T. gigas shell is the largest bivalve
species in global ocean; it can grow to over 1 m in length and live up to
100 years (Rosewater, 1965). T. gigas has hard and dense aragonite
shells with daily growth lines and its growth rate is usually higher
than 1 mm per year. The microdrill sampling method can provide
monthly resolution δ
O and Sr/Ca proles easily (Watanabe and Oba,
1999; Watanabe et al., 2004; Elliot et al., 2009; Yan et al., 2013, 2014a,
b,c). The calibrations between modern T. gigas Sr/Ca and instrumental
SST conrmed that the T. gigas Sr/Ca can be used as a high resolution
(resolving time changes, at least, on a month-to-month basis) SST
proxy comparable to the coral Sr/Ca measure (Yan et al., 2013, 2014a)
and indeed several T. gigas Sr/Ca-based Holocene proxy-SST records
were recently reported (Yan et al., 2014b). These high resolution bicar-
bonate SST records, although each covering only specictimeintervals
for certain warm and cold periods, offer a new opportunity in gaining a
broader overall knowledge and detailed insight by coming up with a
high-resolution composite SST series in the South China Sea during
the late Holocene.
In this study, we will combine seven high-resolution, seasonally-
resolved, coral and T. gigas proxy-SST records together with the instru-
mental SST record from 1990 to 2000 interval to provide a 2500-year
long documentation and view of the climatic variations in the northern
SCS during the late Holocene. The changes of temperature seasonality
and the climatic dynamics in the northern SCS during the warm and
cold periods of the late Holocene will also be highlighted.
2. Material and methods
2.1. Regional setting
The SCS is located in the far western tropical Pacic, it is a semi-
enclosed marginal sea with an area of ~ 3.6 million km
(Fig. 1). SCS con-
sists of hundreds of islands, coral reefs, atolls, and shoals. The largest is-
land is Hainan Island. Most of the others are much smaller and divided
into four archipelagos: Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands), Xisha Islands
(Paracel Islands), Zhongsha Islands (Maccleseld Islands), and Dongsha
Islands (Pratas Islands).
The coral and T. gigas records used in this study are from the Leizhou
Peninsula (20°15N, 109°56E), Yongxing Island (16°50N, 112°20E),
Shidao Island (16°50, 112°20) and Dongdao Island (16°40N, 112°44
E). The Leizhou Peninsula is located in the north of Hainan Island and
123H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
the coral reef in Leizhou Peninsula is the only developed and well-
preserved coral fringing reef on the Mainland China (Yu et al., 2005)
(Fig. 1). The Yongxing Island, Shidao Island and Dongdao Island are lo-
cated in the Xisha Islands, and they are elliptical tropic reef islands
with a land area of 2.13 km
and 1.55 km
, respectively.
The seasonal climate of SCS is dominated by East Asia Monsoon
(EAM). EAM is characterized by southwesterly winds (warm and wet)
in boreal summer and northeasterlywinds (cool and dry) in boreal win-
ter. The monthly SST of the Leizhou Peninsula and Xisha Islands are
shown in Fig. 2 and the average annual-mean SST (AD 19822011)
are 25.41 and 27.59 °C, respectively. The monthly time series of SST
and SST anomalies in Leizhou Peninsula and Xisha Islands are shown
in Fig. 3.AsseeninFigs. 2 and 3, the summer SSTs in Leizhou Peninsula
and Xisha Islands are similar, but the winter SSTs in Leizhou Peninsula
are substantially colder than those in Xisha Islands, leading to a larger
seasonality of SST in Leizhou Peninsula than in Xisha Islands. The
SST data are obtained from the NOAA-NCEP-EMC-CMB GLOBAL
Reyn_SmithOIv2 database (a global weekly SST data starting from
1982 with a spatial resolution of 1° × 1°); the grid cells of the NOAA
SST data used were selected to include Leizhou Peninsula and Xisha
Islands, respectively.
2.2. Data sources
The Sr/Ca ratios of coral skeletons have long been known to robustly
yield a high-resolution SST proxy and have been extensively utilized in
high-resolution paleo-temperature reconstructions in the tropical
oceans (Beck et al., 1992; McCulloch et al., 1994, 1996; Alibert and
McCulloch, 1997). The coral Sr/Ca-based SST reconstructions in the
SCS have also been developed and reported in recent decades. For ex-
ample, three high-resolution late Holocene paleo-SST records, around
~535 BC, ~495 AD and ~1464 AD, were reported in northern SCS from
Leizhou Peninsula, Hainan Island and Xisha Islands, respectively (Wei
et al., 2004a,b). Yu et al. (2005) reported ve mid-late Holocene month-
ly resolution Porites corals Sr/Ca based SST records from Leizhou Penin-
sula (~4789 BC, ~3906 BC, ~3011 BC, ~541 BC, ~487 AD), each covering
a growth history of 913 years (Yu et al., 2005). The coral Sr/Ca-based
SST records, covering mid-Holocene time interval, were also reported
from Leizhou Peninsula, Hainan Island and Xisha Island (Wei et al.,
2004a; Yu et al., 2004; Wei et al., 2007; Deng et al., 2009).
In the meantime, the Sr/Ca ratios of marine bivalve, such as Tridacna
species, have also been investigated in the northern SCS. The study on
Sr/Ca of modern T. gigas specimen from SCS showed that the high-
resolution Sr/Ca ratio proles determined by the inductively coupled
plasma-optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) had clear annual cy-
cles, correlating with thelocal SST variations, and were highly reproduc-
ible across the shells regardless of the physiological effects (Yan et al.,
2013, 2014a). Thus the Sr/Ca ratio of T. gigas from South China Sea, pri-
marily controlled by water temperature, is a useful paleo-temperature
proxy that promises to tell us past summer and winter temperatures
(Yan et al., 2013, 2014a). Based on these new insights, the high resolu-
tion Sr/Ca data of two late Holocene T. gigas specimens were analyzed to
reconstruct paleo-SST around ~50 AD and ~ 990 AD (Yan et al., 2014b).
In this study, a total of seven coral and T. gigas Sr/Ca-based SST time
windows as well as modern instrumental SST in northern SCS were
10°N 20°N
30°N 40°N
90°E 130°E
Xisha Islands
Leizhou Peninsula
Porites lutea coral
Tridacna gigas shell
(c) (d)
Fig. 1. Thelocations of the study sites.(a): map of the East Asia from northwest China to tropical Western Pacic.The locations of the reported temperature records are marked: 1 (Wang
et al., 1999; Shintani et al., 2011), 2 (Wu et al., 2012), 3 (Oppo et al., 2009), 4 (He et al., 2013), 5 (Liuetal.,2009), 6 (Tan et al., 2003), and 7 (Ge et al., 2003). (b): Locations of the Xisha
Islands and the Leizhou Peninsula. (c) and (d): the pictures of Porites lutea coral and Tridacna gigas shell from the northern SCS.
SST (°C)
Fig. 2. Monthly mean sea surfacetemperatures(SST) in Xisha Islands(circles connectedby
red line) and Leizhou Peninsula(triangles connected by purple line)constructed from the
averages over the 1982 to 2008 interval. The source of the SST data is the NOAA NCDC
ERSST ver.2 data, a global monthly SST data from January 1854 with a spatial resolution
of 2° × 2°. (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader
is referred to the web version of this article.)
124 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
assembled here to produce a proxy-SST record over the last 2500 years.
Coral and T. gigas records meeting the following conditions were includ-
ed in this assembly work. First, the coral and T. gigas records are from
the northern SCS. Second, the time windows of coral and T.gigas records
must cover the late Holocene of the last 3000 years or so. Third, the time
resolutions of the coral and T. gigas records are higher than one month.
Based on these three stringent conditions, one coral record from Xisha
Islands (Wei et al., 2004a), four coral records from the Leizhou Peninsu-
la (Weietal.,2004a,b;Yuetal.,2005), and two T. gigas Sr/Ca based SST
time series from Xisha Islands (Yan et al., 2014b) were selected (see all
the individual records in Fig. 4). Thedetails and statisticsof the coral and
T. gigas proxy-SST for the seven time windows of the late Holocene and
SST (°C)SST anomaly (°C)
r=0.54, p<0.001
r=0.91, p<0.001
1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007 2012
1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007 2012
Fig. 3. SST and SST anomaly series from 1982 to 2012 in Xisha Islands (red curve)and Leizhou Peninsula (purple curve). A signicantcorrelation between SST anomalies in Xisha Islands
and Leizhou Peninsula is observed (r = 0.54, p b0.001). The source of the SST data isthe NOAA NCDCERSST ver.2 data, a global monthly SST data from January 1854 with a spatial res-
olution of 2° × 2°. (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
6AD 990±40AD 50±40
SST (°C) SST (°C)
AD 1455±51
AD 487±22
BC 541±24 AD 489±22
BC 530±24
Leizhou, Coral Leizhou, C o ral Leizhou, C o ral Leizhou, C o ral
Xisha, T. gigas Xisha, T. gigas Xisha, Coral
Fig. 4. All sevencoral and T. gigas Sr/Ca-based SST time seriesused in this study. One coralrecord from Xisha Islands (Wei et al., 20 04a),four coral recordsfrom the Leizhou Peninsula (Wei
et al., 2004a,b; Yu et al., 2005), and two T. gigas records from Xisha Islands (Yan et al., 2014b) were selected for our study.
125H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
the instrumental SST data are summarized in Table 1. Our method of
compositing explicitly assumed that each of the time window, though
relatively short in the full extent of their actual time coverages, can be
representative of the major climatic warm, cold and neutral periods
studied here. We believe that this assumption is reasonable since the
dating accuracy of the coral and T. gigas samples is relatively accurate
so there can be no doubt that our coral and bivalve samples actually
sampled and recorded the SST conditions during the historical time
windows when they were alive.
2.3. The method of compositing
In this study, the time resolution of all coral and T. gigas Sr/Ca series
was homogenously resampled to one month using linear interpolation
from original raw data records. For each series,the proxy-SST was calcu-
lated from Sr/Ca ratio using the calibration equations between instru-
mental SST and modern coral/T. gigas Sr/Ca ratios (Wei et al., 2004a,b;
Yu et al., 2005; Yan et al., 2013). For each proxy-SST time series, the win-
ter SST value was calculated using the average of annual SST minima
and the summer SST was calculated using the average of annual SST
maxima. The SST seasonality of each time windows was dened as the
difference between winter and summer SST values. Then, the average
of the winter SST and summer SST values was re-calculated and
employed as the annual-mean SST of each time windows. We note
that the use of such arithmetic means will minimize the impact of ana-
lytical errors, growth rate and other shorter-term variability on the nal
longer term SST estimates (Yu et al., 2005; Yan et al., 2013).
As noted, the modern SSTs in Xisha Islands and Leizhou Peninsula
are different (27.59 vs. 25.41 °C), thus making the combination difcult
if using the reconstructed SST data directly. Therefore, we have chosen
to use SST anomalies to combine the seven proxy-SST records and in-
strumental SST record. We rst calculated the instrumental winter,
summer and mean SST in Xisha Islands and Leizhou Peninsula during
the 19902000 using the same method of the paleo-SST. The anomalies
were calculated by subtracting the winter, summer and annual-mean
SSTs of each paleo time windows from the individual values of instru-
mental winter, summer and annual-mean SSTs (Table 1).
Because thevariation range of the modern climate in Leizhou Penin-
sula is much larger than that in Xisha Islands; the relative change rate,
therefore, was used to further normalize our data. The relative change
rate is dened as the percentage of the paleo SST anomalies to the mod-
ern instrumental SSTs. For example, the reconstructed annual-mean SST
in Xisha Islands around AD 990 is 28.54 °C, the instrumental annual-
mean SST in Xisha Islands during the 19902000 is 27.65 °C, the mean
SST anomaly is 0.89 °C (28.5427.65 = 0.89), and the relative change
rate is thus calculated to be 3.2% (0.89/27.65 = 0.032). All relative
change rates are also given in Table 1.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. A composite proxy-SST record in the northern SCS during the late
Both SST anomalies and relative change rates of the composite SST
record, including winter, summer and annual-mean SSTs, in northern
SCS during the late Holocene are plotted in Fig. 5. Both plots cover a
total of 8 time windows (see summary in Table 1 and Fig. 5), including
5 coral-based time windows around BC 541, BC 535, AD 487, AD 495
and AD 1464, two T. gigas-based time windows around AD 50 and AD
990, and the instrumental SST time window covering AD 19902000.
The annual-mean SST anomalies for the 8 time windows are ranging
from 2.2 °C (8.6%) to 1.55 °C (5.6%) during the last 3000 years
(Fig. 5). The SSTs of warm period time-windows around AD 990 ± 40,
AD 50 ± 40 and BC 535 ± 24 are 0.89 °C (3.2%), 1.55 °C (5.6%) and 0.1
°C (0.4%), higher than that during modern instrumental period of AD
19902000 (Fig. 5). The SSTs of cold period time-windows around AD
1464 ± 51, AD 495 ± 22, AD 487 ± 22 and BC 541 ± 24 are 1.08 °C
(3.9%), 2 °C (7.8%) and 2.2 °C (8.6%) and 0.4 °C (1.6%), lower
than that of the modern instrumental SST decade (Fig. 5). It is worthwhile
to note that the warmer SSTs in northern SCS around AD 990 ± 40 (3.2%)
and AD 50 ± 40 (5.6%) occurred within the notable warm episodes of
Medieval Warm Period (MWP, AD 8001300
riod (RWP, BC 400AD 200), respectively. Conversely, the cooler SSTs
around AD 1464 ± 51, AD 495 ± 22 and AD 487 ± 22 are consistent
with the European cold periods of Little Ice Age (LIA, AD 14001850)
and Dark Age Cold Period (DACP, AD 400800).
3.2. Intercomparison with other SST proxies from tropical Western Pacic
Although the high resolution temperature reconstructions in north-
ern SCS are scarce, the nearby low resolution marine sediment SST
Please seepp. 235239 of Soon et al. (2003) for a detailed discussion on the appropri-
ate use of the terminology Medieval Warm Period. We also proposehere that the timing
of 1300 AD for the transition between MWP andLIA may be not entirely arbitrary nor ac-
cidental but instead has a physical root and link to the timing of 1246 AD being the last
time in which the perihelion of the Sunearth orbit coincided with Northern Hemisphere
winter solstice (see e.g., Kukla and Gavin, 2004).
Table 1
Detailedinformation of coraland T. gi gas Sr/Ca-based SST timewindows in northern SCSduring the late Holocene. The calculatedSST anomalies and relative change ratesin SST were also
presented. Please see Section 2.3 for the methodology for the assembly of our composite SST recordcombining the seven coral and T. gigas records with the instrumental SST records.
Locations Materials References Dating
SST anomalies SST relative change rates
Annual SST (°C) Winter SST
Summer SST
(in %)
(in %)
(in %)
(in %)
Northern SCS Instrumental
AD 19902000 11 0 ± 0.37 0 ± 0.56 0 ± 0.32 0 ± 0.50 0 0 0 0
0 ± 0.35 0 ± 0.89 0 ± 0.38 0 ± 1.01
Xisha Island Coral Wei et al.
AD 1405 ± 51 3 1.08 ± 0.36 0.8 ± 1.00 1.45 ± 0.14 0.65 ± 0.89 3.9 3.2 4.9 13.3
Xisha Island T. gigas Yan et al.
AD 990 ± 40 11 0.89 ± 0.65 1.39 ± 0.64 0.3 ± 0.97 1.09 ± 1.02 3.2 5.6 1.0 22.2
Coral Wei et al.
AD 495 ± 22 11 2 ± 1.58 2.9 ± 2.46 1 ± 1.03 1.9 ± 1.01 7.8 14.1 3.4 21.1
Coral Yu et al.
AD 487 ± 22 13 2.2 ± 1.59 3.8 ± 2.48 0.7 ± 1.01 3.1 ± 1.18 8.6 18.4 2.4 34.5
Xisha Island T. gigas Yan et al.
AD 50 ± 40 15 1.55 ± 0.64 1.88 ± 0.73 1.13 ± 0.76 0.75 ± 0.79 5.6 7.6 3.8 15.3
Coral Wei et al.
BC 535 ± 24 9 0.1 ± 1.53 0.4 ± 2.48 0.2 ± 1.32 0.6 ± 1.21 0.4 1.9 0.7 6.7
Coral Yu et al.
BC 541 ± 24 11 0.4 ± 1.54 0.8 ± 2.49 0.1 ± 1.31 0.7 ± 1.26 1.6 3.9 0.3 7.8
126 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
records (Wang et al., 1999; Shintani et al., 2011), which yield similar
variation pattern with our composite SST record, provide some support
to our composite 8 time windows SST record (Fig. 6). First to note is the
larger variability of winter SST relative to summer SST, which is clearly
shown in ourcomposite high resolution SST record (Fig. 5), was also ob-
served in the marine sediment SST record (Fig. 6)(Wang et al., 1999;
Shintani et al., 2011). The SST reconstruction of Indonesia derived
from the Mg/Ca of planktonic foraminifera (Oppo et al., 2009; Steinke
et al., 2014) and SST record of southern Okinawa Trough derived from
(Wu et al., 2012) also showed similar time variation pattern
with our composite SST record during the late Holocene (Fig. 6). These
marine sediment SST records that are more continuous in time coverage
largely supported the reliability of our composite SST record in northern
SCS that was constructed from seven proxy-SST and the instrumental
SST time windows. It may be important to note that the relative
agreement of our Sr/Ca-based SST proxies with the SST deduced from
differentproxies and methodologies in Fig. 6 serve as a very good inde-
pendent check of our Northern SCS seasonal SST records.
3.3. Distribution of RWP and MWP in theAsia-Pacic region wit h a compar-
ison to other regions
The composite proxy-SST record gives us an important overview and
scientic context for the climate changes in northern SCS during the late
Holocene (Fig. 5). As seen in Fig. 5, the reconstructed SST record re-
vealed six climatically recognizable periods: two warm periods around
AD 990 and AD 50 corresponding to the MWP and RWP, two cold pe-
riods around AD 1464 ± 51, AD 495 ± 22 and AD 487 ± 22 correspond-
ing to the LIA and DACP, and two normalperiods around BC 541 ± 24,
BC 535 ± 24 and AD 19902000.
The RWP has been proposed as a period of unusually warm weather
in Europe and the North Atlantic (Lamb, 1977). The time span for RWP
is generally considered to cover broadly between 2500 and 1600 BP, al-
though the exact time period varies in different regions and stated to be
so by different authors: 27001600 BP in southwest Greenland
(Seidenkrantz et al., 2007), 24001600 BP in the North Sea (Hass,
1996) and 26001600 BP in southern Spain (Martín-Puertas et al.,
2009). It is still unclear if the warm climate during the Roman times oc-
curred globally but it is clear from the literatures, even within dating im-
precision, the warm period probably did not occurred or initiated
synchronously all across the globe. From the perspective of multi-
century scale variation of glacier mass uctuations, Joerin et al.
(2006), for example, through the accurate dating of wood and peat frag-
ments, suggested a warm and major glacier recession in the Swiss Alps
centered around the 300-year long period from 2150 to 1850 BP. Al-
though many paleoclimate reconstructions from the EurasiaAtlantic
regions revealed an obvious warm climate around AD 0, there were
also some temperature records from the Northern and Southern Hemi-
spheres (Cook et al., 2000; Hantemirov and Shiyatov, 2002)aswellas
Antarctica (Masson et al., 2000), that showed no signicant warm con-
dition during the RWP 2000 years ago. Similarly, there were some ef-
forts to synthesize various records from different regions to produce a
wider areal, if not hemispheric, averages, but the results were also con-
troversial. For example, one early multi-proxy compilation of Northern
Hemisphere did not nd the obvious warm period during the Roman
times (Moberg et al., 2005), but a more recent synthesis of extratropical
Northern Hemisphere temperature showed the obvious warm climate
around AD 0 (Ljungqvist, 2010)(seeFig. 7).
The annual-mean proxy-SST for the time window during the RWP
(around AD 50 ± 40) is the warmest one among the eight time win-
dows of our northern SCS composite record, with 1.55 °C warmer than
that of recent de cades (Fig. 4). The warm climate in northern SCS during
the RWP is consistent with the nearby SST reconstruction surrounding
marine-continental region of Indonesia (Fig. 6)(Oppo et al., 2009)and
in China (Fig. 7a) (Yang et al., 2002). However, the warm RWP does
not seem to be uniformly warm for the whole East Asian Monsoon af-
fected domain. The historical documentary and stalagmite reconstruc-
tions from the mid-east (Fig. 7b) and north China (Fig. 7c) suggested a
relatively warm period (Ge et al., 2003; Tan et al., 2003), but the tree
ring (Fig. 7d) and lake sediment records (Fig. 7e) from the northwest
China indicated either neutral or even a cold period during the Roman
times (Liu et al., 2009; He et al., 2013). The regional difference, the er-
rors of age models and nonlinear proxy transfer functions or relative in-
sensitivity of certain proxies could all provide some explanations for the
discrepancy. Overall, we nd that although the presence of warm cli-
mate in northwest China during the Roman times remains to be
substantiated, the relatively prominent and geographically wide distri-
bution of the Roman warm period in the Eastern margin of China and
the western tropical Pacic region is well established.
In contrast to RWP, there are more comprehensive proxy records
that support the MWP, a warm period during AD 8001300, and the ex-
istence of MWP is demonstrated by climate data from not only in north-
ern SCS and northern Europe but also in many parts of the world
(Hughes and Diaz, 1994; Soon et al., 2003; Mann et al., 2008, 2009;
Esper and Frank, 2009; Ljungqvist, 2010; Graham et al., 2011). The aver-
aged SST of the time window during the MWP (around AD 990 ± 40)
was higher than that during the DACP and the LIA (Fig. 5 and Table 1),
conrming the existence of a warm period during the MWP in the
northern SCS. The warm medieval times was also found in the
Indonesian record, as well as some records from China (Figs. 6 and 7).
Although there are also some difference in the timingand the tempera-
ture change amplitude in these diverse types of proxy records, but a
warm climate during the MWP seems to be certain in Asia-Pacic re-
gion, covering broad geographical areas from Northwest China to the
Western Pacic.
Our composite proxy-SST record also reveals two cold periods, one is
between RWP and MWP corresponding to the European DACP well
noted in historical documents and the other is between MWP and cur-
rent warm period corresponding to the relatively better-studied LIA in-
terval (Matthes, 1939, 1940; Grove, 1988). The cold climate during the
SST anomaly
in Northern SCS (°C)
SST anomaly
in Northern SCS (%)
AD 990±40AD 50±40
AD 1455±51
AD 487±22
BC 541±24
AD 489±22BC 530±24
-1000 -500 500 1000 1500 2000
0-1000 -500 500 1000 1500 2000
Fig. 5. Thecomposite proxy-SSTrecords. Winter(triangles connected by pink curve),sum-
mer (triangles connected by blue curve) and annual-mean (diamonds connected by red
curve) SSTs,in northern SCS during the late Holocene are indicated. Both the SST anoma-
lies (a) andSST relative changerates (b) are shown.The composite SST records consist of 8
time windows (see summaryin Table S1), including 5 coral time-windows aroundBC 541,
BC 535, AD 487, AD 495 and AD 1464, two T. gigas time-windows around AD 50 and AD
990, and a instrumental SST time-window covering AD 19902000. (For interpretation
of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version
of this article.)
127H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
Dark Age was pointed out specically by Hubert Lamb (Lamb, 1977).
Later studies further conrmedacoldandwetperiodinEuropeduring
the DACP. The cold climate duringthe DACP was also clearly recorded in
various proxies from the Western Pacic to the Northwestern China
(Figs. 6 and 7), such as the marine sediment record (Oppo et al.,
2009), the ancient Chinese literature record (Ge et al., 2003), the cave
stalagmite record (Tan et al., 2003) and the lake sediment record (He
et al., 2013), conrming that the cold climate during the DACP was in-
deed widely distributed all over the East AsiaWestern Pacic region.
Despite the relatively more stringent requirements for persistency of
meteorological and climatic forcings and nite time for the growth of
glacier ice mass, the clear imprints of the DACP can also be found in
the glacial record of Sheridan Glacier, around the Copper River Delta,
coastal South-Central Alaska which has its peaked phase of advance
centered at around 530 to 640 AD (Barclay et al., 2013). In addition,
the recent syntheses work of Northern Hemisphere temperature varia-
tions also demonstrated an obvious cold climate during the DACP
(Fig. 7)(Moberg et al., 2005; Ljungqvist, 2010). The anomalous weather
regimes and climatic conditions during the LIA have been heavily stud-
ied in recent decades and the results suggested a cold climate with a
substantial accumulation of land ice covering most high-elevation
areas of the Earth. The relatively low temperature anomaly of 1.08 °C
during the LIA in our composite proxy-SST record was clearly consistent
with the other reconstructions from the East AsiaWestern Pacic re-
gion (Figs. 6 and 7).
Overall, the variation pattern of our northern SCS SST record
was similar to that of other temperature reconstructions from East
AsiaWestern Pacic regions and two syntheses of the Northern
Hemisphere-wide temperature records during the late Holocene with
some divergences in details especially for the RWP (Fig. 7). These results
demonstrated convincingly that the climate oscillations in northern SCS
were in step with other regional and perhaps even the global climate
changes during the late Holocene.
3.4. Variation of the SSTseasonality in the SCS during the late Holocene and
its relationship with the mean climate state
Temperature seasonality, the difference between summer and win-
ter temperatures, is an important aspect of Earth's climate and has sig-
nicant inuences on local, regional and global terrestrial and marine
West Pacific Warm Pool
SST (°C)
17940-Northern SCS
Annual mean SST (°C)
17940-Northern SCS
Summer/Winter mean SST (°C)
Southern Okinawa Trough
SST (°C)
Summer SST, SD= 0.28 °C
Winter SST, SD= 1.19 °C
Annual SST, SD= 0.64 °C
-1000 -500 500 1000 1500 2000
Fig. 6. The comparison betweencomposite SST series in northern SCS (triangles connected byred line) and other marine sediment-basedtemperature recordsfrom northern S CS (Wang
et al., 1999; Shintani et al., 2011), Indonesia (Oppo et al., 2009) and southern Okinawa Trough (Wu et al., 2012). (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the
reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
128 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
environments and ecosystems. However, most of the current proxy-
based climate recordsare not sufcient to quantify the temperature sea-
sonality due to the limits of the temporal resolution inherent in those
individual paleoclimate proxies. In this study, our high-resolution SST
record gives us an exciting opportunity to examine the seasonality var-
iation in northern SCS during the late Holocene that are known to cover
several warm and cold weather regimes and climatic periods. We em-
phasize that the current climate understanding and theory are still
Temperature variation
in China (°C)
Winter half-year temperature
in mid-east China (°C)
Warm season temperature in Beijing
Northern China (°C)
Temperature variaion
in mid-east Tebet Platea
North-west China (°C)
Northern Hemisphere
Temperature (°C)
Temperature in Gahai
North-West China (°C)
Northern Hemisphere
extratropical Temperature (°C)
0 1000-1000 -500 500 1500 2000
Fig. 7. The comparison betweencomposite SST seriesin northern SCS (trianglesconnected by red curve)and other temperaturerecords from mainlandChina (a) (Yang et al., 2002), mid-
east China (b) (Ge et al., 2003), northern China (c) (Tan et al., 2003), north-west China (d, e) (Liu et al., 2009; He et al., 2013), Northern Hemisphere (f) (Moberg et al., 2005), and
extratropical region of Northern Hemisphere (g) (Ljungqvist, 2010). (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this
129H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
simply not mature enough (Essex, 2011, 2013)toanswersuchadirect
question,so we will have to rely on empirical knowledge systematically
built from such a paleoclimatic study.
The changes in SST seasonality derived from the differences between
winter and summer SST anomalies were shown in Fig.8.Boththeincon-
stant nature of and the large variation in the amplitude of seasonality for
locations like Northern SCS are the major ndings in this study. The SST
seasonality anomalies of eight time windows during the late Holocene
varied substantially from 1.09 to 3.1 °C and the relative change rates
of SST seasonality varied from 22.2% to 34.5% (Table 1 and Fig. 8).
We compare the annual-mean SST anomalies with the SST seasonal-
ity anomalies and nd a strong and statistically signicant negative cor-
relation (r
=0.69,pb0.001, Fig. 8). The seasonality decreased when
the mean SSTs were warmer, such as the time windows centered at
around RWP (SST seasonality anomaly was 0.75 °C) and MWP (SST
seasonality anomaly was 1.09 °C). The result of decreased seasonality
under warmer climateis consistent withthe previous composite bivalve
shell records (i.e., also concatenated from several time windows) from
the Gulf of Maine, North Atlantic, which revealed increased seasonality
with climatic cooling (Wanamaker et al., 2011). This empirical fact
concerning the inverse relation between amplitude of seasonality and
mean climatic condition is also supported by some marine sediment re-
cords. For example, the nearby marine sediment core SCS90-36
(17°59.70N, 111°29.64E) record presents an obvious decrease of sea-
sonality in northern SCS during the Holocene than during the last glacial
period (Huang et al., 1997). The new and independent results, both in
terms of area of study and methodology, from western Arabian Sea
also found, from analyses of δ
O in individual shells of planktic forami-
nifera samples from their Ocean Drilling Program Site 723A, that the
seasonality amplitude of SST around western Arabian Sea for the rela-
tively colder time during LIA (ca. 0.5 ka for their samples) is about
four times larger than the seasonal SST amplitude during the warmer
period around RWP (ca. 2.07 ka) (Naidu et al., 2014). Our result can fur-
ther directly verify such an observation for northern SCS where the larg-
est amplitude variation for the seasonality occurs during the cold period
of DACP. We have also checked the relationship between the SST sea-
sonality and the SST anomalies in winter and summer, respectively.
The results suggested that the SST seasonality anomalies were highly
correlated with the winter SST anomalies (r
= 0.86, p b0.001, Fig. 8),
but not with the summer SST anomalies (r
= 0.19, p = 0.29, Fig. 8),
probably indicating that the changes of SST seasonality in northern
SCS mainly depend on the variations of winter climate which is sugges-
tive of the more prevalent effects on seasonality by the landsea con-
trast of the monsoon-controlled climate regions like East Asia (Ding
et al., 2014).
Similar statistical correlations and physical tendencies can also be
found in instrumental SST data for modern period from 1982 to 2012.
Both the observations from Xisha Island and Leizhou Peninsula revealed
stronger correlations between SST seasonality and winterSST, and weak
ones between SST seasonality and summer SST (Fig. 9). The coefcients
of the correlations between SST seasonality and annual-mean, summer
and winter SST in Xisha Islands were 0.5 (r
= 0.25, p b0.01), 0.1
= 0.01, p = 0.58) and 0.82 (r
= 0.68, p b0.001), respectively
(Fig. 9 top panels). The coefcients of the correlations between SST sea-
sonality and annual-mean, summer and winter SST in Leizhou Peninsu-
la were 0.58 (r
= 0.34, p b0.001), 0.45 (r
= 0.21, p = 0.01) and
0.92 (r
= 0.85, p b0.001), respectively (Fig. 9 bottom panels).
Such an observed reality from instrumental data clearly provides a
good physical grounding for our interpretation of the paleo-SST results.
3.5. Different amplitudes of summer and winter SST variations during the
late Holocene
Meanwhile, the variation of the winter SST anomaly amplitude in
our composite record was much larger than that of summer SST anom-
aly during the late Holocene (Fig. 5). The winter SST anomalies for the
eight time-windows changed from 3.8 °C to 1.88 °C and the summer
values varied from 1.45 °C to 1.13 °C. The regression between annual-
mean SST anomalies and winter SST anomalies of eight time windows
yielded the equation (Fig. 10): winter-SST (°C) = 1.45 × annual-
y = -0.93x - 0.03
r2 = 0.69
SST anomaly
in Northern SCS (°C)
SST seasonality anomaly
in Northern SCS (°C)
Annual SST (°C)
y = -0.80x + 0.12
r2 = 0.19
Summer SST (°C)
y = -0.70x - 0.08
r2 = 0.86
0 1 012
Winter SST (°C)
SST seasonality anomaly
in Northern SCS (°C)
SST seasonality anomaly
in Northern SCS (°C)
-2 -1.5 -1 -0.5 0.5 1.5 -4 -3 -2 -1
-3 -2 -1
-1000 -500 500 1000 1500 2000
Fig. 8. The SST seasonality in northern SCS during the lateHolocene (a). The linearregressions of SST seasonality versusannual-mean SST anomaly (b), SST seasonality versus summerSST
anomaly (c) and SST seasonality versus winter SST anomaly (d) are also shown.
130 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
mean-SST (°C) 0.026 (r
= 0.96, p b0.001, n = 8). The regression
between mean SSTs and summer SSTs yielded the equation: summer-
SST (°C) = 0.52 × annual-mean-SST (°C) 0.05 (r
= 0.74, p b0.01,
n = 8). This empirical result suggests that an increase of annual-mean
SST of 1 °C corresponds to a winter SST increase of 1.45°C and a summer
SST increase of only 0.52 °C (Fig. 10).
This large difference in the variability of the winter SST and summer
SST has also been detected in two previously published coral δ
series from northern SCS (Peng et al., 2003; Sun et al., 2005). For exam-
ple, Sun et al. (2005) found that the interannual variability of winter
coral δ
O in Hainan Island of northern SCS was dominated by theinter-
annual variation of the winter SST, but the interannual variability of
summer coral δ
O was primary controlled by the summer rainfall
with little impact from the summer SST variation. This independent re-
sult and interpretation conrm the small interannual variability of sum-
mer SST relative to winter SST variability. Peng et al. (2003) reported a
signicant correlation between the interannual variation of coral δ
from Hainan Island and the winter monsoon index/winter SST, also im-
plying a larger variability of winter SST.
The large difference in the variability of the winter SST and summer
SST in northern SCS was also observed in the instrumental SST record
(Fig. 11). The direct instrumental SST data for the most recent
50 years in northern SCS suggest that an annual-mean SST increase of
1 °C corresponds to a winter SST increase of 1.64 °C and a summer SST
increase of 0.62 °C (Fig. 11), similar to the calculated results from the
paleo-SST records during the late Holocene even in a quantitative
sense. This fact adds condence to our paleoclimate study of seasonality
contrasting the sharp differences between climate warm and cold pe-
riods of the past 2500 years.
Thus, we conclude that the larger amplitude in SST variation during
winters than during summers in northern SCS during the late Holocene
and instrumental era could explain the negative correlation between
the SST seasonality and the mean climate state in Figs. 8 and 9. When
northern SCS climate turned warm, the summer SST increased less
and the winter SST increased disproportionately more, resulting in a re-
duction of the amplitude of seasonality. When northern SCS climate was
undergoing cooling tendencies, the summer SST decreased less and
winter SST decreased more, resulting in a larger seasonality. The stron-
ger correlation between the winter SST and seasonality than that be-
tween summer SST and seasonality could be similarly explained by
the relative dominance of the winter season for northern SCS monsoon-
al climate region.
3.6. Mechanism for the different variation amplitudes of the summer and
winter SST during the late Holocene
Seasonal and sub-seasonal changes are important components of
Earth's multi-scale and multi-component climate system. The mecha-
nism for the different variation amplitudes in winter and summer SST
is, therefore, essential both for clarifying and understanding the climatic
dynamics in the northern SCS. The SST maps in the tropical Western Pa-
cic (including SCS) for the winter (i.e., January, 2000) and summer
(i.e., July, 2000), respectively, are shown in Fig. 12. The SCS was covered
by the West Pacic Warm-Fresh Pool (WPWFP; consider iso-
temperature zones with SST N28.5 °C (Cravatte et al., 2009)) during
y = -0.67x + 23.56
R2 = 0.25
y = 0.16x + 0.15
R2 = 0.01
y = -0.73x + 23.07
R2 = 0.68
y = -1.65x + 51.32
R2 = 0.34
y = 1.18x - 25.70
R2 = 0.21 y = -1.03x + 30.3
R2 = 0.85
30.5 25.5
SST seasonality (oC)SST seasonality (oC)
Annual SST (oC) Summer SST (oC)
ahsiXahsiX Xisha
Leizhou Leizhou Leizhou
ba c
24.5 25 25.5 26 26.5 28.5 29 29.5 30 30.5 18.5 19.5 20.5 21.5 22.5
27.527 28 28.5 29 28.5 3029.529 23.5 24.5 26.5
Annual SST (oC) Summer SST (oC) Winter SST (oC)
Winter SST (oC)
Fig. 9. The linear regressions of instrumental SST seasonality versus annual-meanSST (a), SST seasonality versussummer SST (b) and SSTseasonality versus winter SST(c) in Xisha Islands
(red triangles and line)and Leizhou Peninsula (purpletriangles andline) from 1982 to 2012. The sourceof the SST data is the NOAANCDC ERSST ver.2data, a global monthly SST data from
January 1854 with a spatial resolution of 2° × 2°. (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
y = 0.5216x - 0. 0543
= 0.7393
y = 1.4539x - 0. 0262
= 0.9545
Winter SST (pink) and Summer SST
(blue) (°C)
-2.5 -1.5 -0.5 0.5 1.5
SST (mean, °C)
Fig. 10. Thelinear regressions of winter SST versus annual-mean SST anomalies (pink tri-
angles and line) and summer SST versus annual-mean SST anomalies (blue circles and
line) in northern SCS during the late Holocene. (For interpretation of the references to
color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
131H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
summer when the WPWFP migrated north (right panel in Fig. 12). The
summer SST in northern SCS was, therefore, consistent with the SST of
WPWFP. As a result, the changes of summer SST in northern SCS were
closely controlled by and connected to the climate conditions of the
WPWFP. However, the situation was quite different during winter
when the WPWFP migrated south (left panel in Fig. 12). The SCS now
seemed to be free from the predominance of the WPWFP and an obvi-
ous cold tonguelied on the northern SCS (Fig. 12). The cold tongue
was formed by the southward migration of the cold water along the
northwest coast of the northern SCS driven by the strong East Asian
Winter Monsoonal circulation (EAWM). The cold tonguemakes the
SST in northern SCS about 35 °C lower than the SST in the eastern
part of the Philippines under the same latitude.
The summer and winter SSTs in northern SCS are controlled by
oceanographic conditions of the WPWFP and the strength of the
EAWM atmospheric circulation, respectively. In modern meteorological
observation, the impacts of EAWM on the northern SCS are manifested
through the pulse type of cold waves. The winter temperature around
the region could drop signicantly by more than ve degrees rather
abruptly when a cold wave sets in from the Siberian High, and the sea
surface temperature also could recover quickly after the cold waves dis-
sipated (Ding et al., 2014). In contrast, the WPWFP oceanographic
y = 0.0192x - 11.324
R2 = 0.4645
y = 0.6219x + 12.644
R2 = 0.341
y = 1.6415x - 20.797
R2 = 0.6499
y = 0.0109x + 7.6391
R2 = 0.1323
31 y = 0.0315x - 39.344
R2 = 0.3015
Year Year Year
Annual mean temperature (°C)
Winter temperature (°C)
Summer temperature (°C)
Annual mean temperature (°C)
Temperature (°C)
Annual mean Summer Winter
SD=0.41 SD=0.79
25.5 26 26.5 27 27.5 28
1955 1975 1995 1955 1975 1995 1955 1975 1995
25.5 2826 26.5 27 27.5
Fig. 11.The variation trendsof annual-mean (a),summer (b) and winter(c) SST in Xisha Islandsfrom 1958 to 2005.The linear regressionsof summer SST versusannual-mean SST(d) and
winter SST versus annual-mean SST (e) from 1958 to 2005 are also shown.
10S 95E 115E 125E105E 135E85E 105E 135E95E 115E 125E85E
January 2000 July 2000 29.5
Fig. 12. The spatial distributions of SST in SCS in January 2000 (left) and July 2000 (right). The source of the SST data is the NOAA NCDC ERSST ver.2 data, a global monthly SST data from
January 1854 with a spatial resolution of 2° × 2°.
132 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
conditioning during summers is usually kept more stable with less var-
iability. That is why theinstrumental SSThas a relatively larger variation
amplitude during winters than during summers (see Fig. 11).
From a broader and even hemispheric view, the pulse-type cold
wave is likely one major cause for the larger variability of winter tem-
peratures (Ding et al., 2014). For example, in regions like East Asia and
the east coast of North America, which are strongly inuenced by the
winter pulse-type cold waves, hence winter temperature variability
was much larger than summer one (Fig. 13). Dinget al. (2014) recently
provided a comprehensive description and summary of the multi-scale
and multi-modal natures of the EAWM. These authors explained that
EAWM is modulated on timescale of several decades while being repre-
sented by at least three major meteorological modes that are concur-
rently operating and competing. On the prominent multidecadal
timescale, Ding et al. (2014)'s illuminating discussion of physical pro-
cesses covered not only ENSO but also the co-workings of AO, PDO
and AMO phenomena that are not necessarily local to East Asia or
South China Sea.
The modern instrumental data could provide us some additional
clues about the seasonal variations of our composite SST record during
the late Holocene. The similar patterns of winter and summer SST vari-
ations in northern SCS probably hinted at a close inverse relation be-
tween the EAWM and WPWFP conditions during the late Holocene,
with a weak EAWM corresponding to a warm WPWFP. This coupling
between EAWM and tropical Pacic has also been reported by many
previous studies using instrumental data and observations (Lau and Li,
1984; Masumoto and Yamagata, 1991; Li and Mu, 2000; Wang et al.,
The larger variability of atmosphere-controlled EAWM than ocean-
controlled WPWFP conditions derived from the instrumental data ex-
plains the relatively larger variation amplitude of winter SST than that
of summer SST in northern SCS during the late Holocene. We compare
our composite record with the SST reconstruction from the Indonesian
region of WPWFP. The variability of the winter proxy-SST in our com-
posite record was much larger than that of the proxy-SST record from
the Indonesia region of WPWFP, but the amplitude of the summer SST
variations in both our northern SCS and Indonesian WPWFP records
were comparable. This fact suggests the existence of different mecha-
nisms for the summer and winter SST variations innorthern SCS during
the late Holocene.
The large differences in the amplitude of summer and winter SST
variations found in our study imply a potentially serious problem for
other syntheses of multi-proxy paleoclimate records. In many of the
current synthesis works (IPCC, 2001, 2007; Mann et al., 2008, 2009),
most of the proxy records considered and adopted have a time-
resolution too low to take seasonal effect into consideration and these
proxy records tend to reect the climate of a particular season. For ex-
ample, most tree ring growth and increment in Northern Hemisphere
occur during boreal springs and summers and the tree ring width
index is basically recording summer-climate information (Briffa et al.,
1990; Büntgen et al., 2005). The climate information derived from the
phenological records and historical winter snow-day records in East
Asia region mainly reect the early-spring and winter temperatures, re-
spectively (Ge et al., 2003; Aono and Kazui, 2008). Another example is
recently pointed out by Ekaykin et al. (2014) where these authors con-
vincingly demonstrated that their stacked δD isotopic proxy record for
the past three centuries from Vostok station in East Antarctica best rep-
resented summer temperature variations and that summer-sensitive
proxy behavior is distinctly different from variations in annual-mean
temperature (Ekaykin et al., 2014). The synthesis of these climate re-
cords may result in substantial uncertainty if the seasonal cycle ampli-
tude is large (i.e., especially over mid-to-high latitude regions;
including even highly sensitive tropical regions like northern SCS de-
scribed above) and that seasonal bias is a signicant factor for the
4. Conclusions
In this study, a composite multi-proxy record of the SST variation in
the northern SCS during the late Holocene is constructed by the combi-
nation of seven high-resolution coral and T. gigas Sr/Ca-based SST time
windows and the instrumental SST from 1990 to 2000 interval. The
60E 180 0
120E0 60W
0.25 10.33
0.2 0.5 2
Fig. 13. A comparison of the temperature variability during wintersversus during summers. Thered zones indicate areas withlarger winter temperature variability. The values were cal-
culated from the ratio of the standarddeviation of January temperatures to the standard deviation of July temperatures from 1982 to 2012.The source of the SST data is the NOAA NCDC
ERSST ver.2data, a global monthly SST datafrom January 1854 with a spatial resolution of 2° ×2°. (For interpretation of the references to colorin this gure legend, the readeris referred to
the web version of this article.)
133H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
variation pattern and characteristic of the composite SST record is con-
sistent with other reconstructions from Eastern to Northwestern China
and tropical Western Pacic; they all indicate a prominent high-
amplitude and geographically wide distribution of the warm climate
during the RWP and MWP in the East AsianWestern Pacicregion.
Meanwhile, we also observe the substantial difference in seasonal SST
variations in northern SCS during the late Holocene, with much larger
SST amplitude during winters than during summers, and the climatic
seasonality of northernSCS over the last 2500 years appears to be signif-
icantly impacted by East Asian Winter Monsoon. The importance of sea-
sonality for past climate states and climatic variations highlights the
potential uncertainty in other current synthesis works that adopted cli-
mate proxies that cannot resolve seasonal SST.
Financial support for this research was provided by the
Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (41403018), Major
State Basic Research Development Program of China (973 Program)
(2013CB955900), the West Light Foundation of The Chinese Acade-
my of Sciences (29Y42909101) and the Key Programs of the Chinese
Academy of Sciences (55ZZBS1304101). We are grateful to Professor
Kefu Yu and Gangjian Wei for the constructive comments on earlier
versions of the manuscript, as well as useful comments from the ed-
itor and three anonymous reviewers.
Alibert, C., McCulloch, M.T., 1997. Strontium/calcium ratios in modern Porites corals from
the Great Barrier Reef as a proxy for sea surface temperature: calibration of the ther-
mometer and monitoring of ENSO. Paleoce anography 12 (3), 345363.
Aono, Y., Kazui, K., 2008. Phenological data series of cherry treeowering in Kyoto, Japan,
and its application to reconstruction ofspringtime temperatures since the 9th centu-
ry. Int. J. Climatol. 28 (7), 905914.
Aubert, A., Lazareth, C., Cabioch, G., Boucher, H., Yamada, T., Iryu, Y., Farman, R., 2009. The
tropical giant clam Hippopus hippopus shell, a new archive of environmental condi-
tions as revealed by sclerochronol ogical and δ
Oproles. Coral Reefs 28 (4),
Barclay, D.J., Yager, E.M., Graves, J., Kloczko, M., Calkin, P.E., 2013. Late Holocene glacial
history of the Copper River Delta, coastal south-central Alaska, and controls on valley
glacier uctuations. Quat. Sci. Rev. 81, 7489.
Batenburg, S.J., Reichart, G.J., Jilbert, T., Janse, M., Wesselingh, F.P., Renema, W., 2011. In-
terannualclimate variability in the Miocene: high resolution traceelement and stable
isotope ratios in giant clams. Palae ogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 306 (12),
Beck, J., Edwards, R., Ito,E., Taylor, F., Recy, J., Rougerie, F.,Joannot, P., Henin, C., 1992. Sea-
surface temperature from coral skeletal strontium/calcium ratios. Science 25 7
(5070), 644647.
Briffa, K.R., Bartholin, T.S., Eckstein, D., Jones, P.D., Karlén, W., Schweingruber, F.H.,
Zetterberg, P., 1 990. A 1,400-year tree-ring record of summer temperatures in
Fennoscandia. Nature 346, 434439.
Büntgen, U., Esper, J., Frank, D.C., Nicolussi, K., Schmidhalter, M., 2005. A1052-yeartree-
ring proxy for Alpine summer temperatures. Clim. Dyn. 25 (2), 141153.
Cobb, K.M., Charles, C.D., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., 2003. El Nino/southern oscillation and
tropical Pacic climate during the last millennium. Nature 424 (6946), 271276.
Cole, J., Fairbanks, R., Shen, G., 1993. Recent variability in the southern oscillation: isotopic
results from a Tarawa atoll coral. Science 260 (5115), 17901793.
Cook, E., Buckley, B., D'Arrigo, R., Peterson, M., 2000. Warm-season temperatures since
1600 BC reconstructed from Tasmanian tree rings and their relationship to large-
scale sea surface temperature anomalies. Clim. Dyn. 16 (23), 7991.
Cravatte, S., Delcroix, T., Zhang, D., McPhaden, M., Leloup, J., 2009. Observed freshening
and warming of the western Pacic warm pool. Clim. Dyn. 33 (4), 565589.
Deng, W.F.,Wei, G.J., Li, X.H., Yu, K.F.,Zhao, J.X., Sun, W.D., Liu, Y., 2009. Paleoprecipitation
record from coral Sr/Ca and delta O-18 during the mid Holocene in the northern
South China Sea. The Holocene 19 (6), 811821.
Denton, G.H., Alley, R.B., Comer, G.C., Broecker, W.S., 2005. The role of seasonality in
abrupt climate change. Quat. Sci. Rev. 24 (10), 11591182.
Ding, Y., Liu, Y., Liang, S., Ma, X., Zhang, Y., Si, D., Liang, P., Song, Y., Zhang, J., 2014.
Interdecadal variability of the East Asian winter monsoon and its possible links to
global climate change. J. Meteorol. Res. 28, 693713.
Ekaykin, A., Kozachek, A., Lipenkov, V.Y., Shibaev, Y.A., 2014. Multiple climate shifts in the
Southern Hemisphere over the past three centuries based on central Antarctic snow
pits and core studies. Ann. Glaciol. 55 (66), 259266.
Elliot, M., Welsh, K., Chilcott, C., McCulloch, M., Chappell, J., Ayling, B., 2009. Proles of
trace elements and stable isotopes derived from giant long-lived Tridacna gigas bi-
valves: potential applications in paleoclimate studies. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol.
Palaeoecol. 280 (12), 132142.
Esper, J., Frank, D., 2009. The IPCC on a heterogeneous Medieval wa rm period. Clim.
Chang. 94 (34), 267273.
Esper,J.,Cook,E.,Schweingruber,F.,2002.Low-frequency signals in long tree-ringchronol-
ogies for reconstructing past temperature variability. Science 295 (5563), 22502253.
Essex, C., 2011. Climate theory versus a theory for climate. Int. J. Bifurcation Chaos 21
(12), 34773487.
Essex, C.,2013. Does laboratoryscale physicsobstruct the development of a theory for cli-
mate? J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 118 (3), 12181225.
Gagan, M., Chivas, A., Isdale, P., 1994. High-resolution isotopic records from corals using
ocean temperature and mass-spawning chronometers. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 121
(34), 549558.
Ge,Q.,Zheng,J.,Fang,X.,Man,Z.,Zhang,X.,Zhang,P.,Wang,W.,2003.Winter half-
year temperature reconstruction for the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow
River and Yangtze River, China, during the past 2000 years. Th e Holocene 13 ( 6),
Giry, C., Felis, T., Kolling, M., Wei, W.,Lohmann, G., Scheffers, S., 2013. Controls of Caribbe-
an surface hydrology during the mid-to late Holocene: insights from monthly re-
solved coral records. Clim. Past 9 (2), 841858.
Graham, N., Ammann, C., Fleitmann, D., Cobb, K., Luterbacher, J., 2011. Support for global
climate reorganization during the Medieval Climate Anomaly? Clim. Dyn. 37 (56),
Grove, J., 1988. The Little Ice Age. Methuen, New York.
Guttman, N.B., 1989. Statistical descriptors of climate. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 70 (6),
Hantemirov, R.M., Shiyatov, S.G., 2002. A continuousmultimillennial ring-width chronol-
ogy in Yamal, northwestern Siberia. The Holocene 12 (6), 717726.
Hass, H.C., 1996. Northern Europe climate variations during late Holocene: evidence from
marine Skagerrak. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 123 (1), 121145.
He, Y., Liu, W., Zhao, C., Wang, Z., Wang, H.,Liu, Y., Qin, X., Hu, Q., An, Z., Liu, Z., 2013. Solar
inuenced late Holocene temperature changes on the northern Tibetan Plateau. Chin.
Sci. Bull. 57 (1), 17.
Huang, C.-Y., Wu, S.-F., Zhao, M., Chen, M.-T., Wang, C.-H., Tu, X., Yuan, P.B., 1997. Surface
ocean and monsoon climate variability in the South China Sea since the last glacia-
tion. Mar. Micropaleontol. 32 (1), 7194.
Hughes, M.K., Diaz, H.F., 1994. Was there a Medieval Warm Period, and if so, where and
when? Clim. Chang. 26 (23), 109142.
IPCC, 2001. Climate Change 2001: The ScienticBasis. Cambridge University Press,
IPCC, 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Cambridge University Press,
Joerin, U.E., Stocker, T.F., Schlüchter, C., 2006. Multicentury glacier uctuations in the
Swiss Alps during the Holocene. The Holocene 16 (5), 697704.
Kukla, G., Gavin, J., 2004. Milankovitch climate reinforcements. Glob. Planet. Chang. 40
(1), 2748.
Lamb, H.H., 1977. Climate: present, past and future. Climatic history and the future vol. 2.
Methuen & Company.
Landsberg, H.E., 1972. Weather normalsand normal weather. NOAA Environmental
Data Service, pp. 813 (October issue).
Lau, K.-M.,Li, M.-T., 1984. The monsoon of East Asia and its global associationsa survey.
Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 65 (2), 114125.
Li, C., Mu, M., 2000. Relationship between East Asian winter monsoon, warm pool situa-
tion and ENSO cycle. Chin. Sci. Bull. 45 (16), 14481455.
Liu, Y., An, Z., Linderholm, H.W., Chen, D., Song, H., Cai, Q., Sun, J., Tian, H., 2009. Annual
temperatures during the last 2485 years in the mid-eastern Tibetan Plateau inferred
from tree rings. Sci. China Ser. D Earth Sci. 52 (3), 348359.
Ljungqvist, F.C., 2010. A new reconstruction of temperature variability in the extra-
tropical Northern Hemisphere during the last two mi llennia. Geogr. Ann. Ser. A
Maier, E.,Titschack, J.,2010. Spondylusgaederopus: a new Mediterraneanclimate archive
based on high-resolution oxygen and carbon isotope analyses. Palaeogeogr.
Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 291 (34), 228238.
Mann, M.E., Zhang, Z., Hughes, M.K., Bradley, R.S., Miller, S.K., Rutherford, S., Ni, F., 2008.
Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature varia-
tions over the past two millennia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105 (36), 1325213257.
Mann, M., Zhang, Z., Rutherford, S., Bradley, R., Hughes, M., Shindell, D., Ammann, C.,
Faluvegi, G., Ni, F., 2009. Global signatures and dynamical origins of the little ice
age and medieval climate anomaly. Science 326 (5957), 12561260.
Martín-Puertas, C., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Brauer, A., Mata, M.P., Delgado-Huertas, A., Dulski,
P., 2009. The Iberian-Roman Humid Period (26001600 cal yr BP) in the Zoñar Lake
varve record (Andalucía, southern Spain). Quat. Res. 71 (2), 108120.
Masson, V., Vimeux, F., Jouzel, J., Morgan, V., Delmotte, M., Ciais, P., Hammer, C., Johnsen,
S., Lipenkov, V.Y. , Mosley-Thompson, E., 2000. Holocene climate variability in
Antarctica based on 11 ice-core isotopic records. Quat. Res. 54 (3), 348358.
Masumoto, Y., Yamagata, T., 1991. Response of the western tropical Pacic to the Asian
winter monsoon: the generation of the Mindanao Dome. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 21 (9),
Matthes, F.E., 1939. Report of committee on glaciers, April 1939. Trans. Am. Geophys.
Union 20, 518523.
Matthes, F.E., 1940. Committee on glaciers, 193940. Trans. Am. Geophys. Union 21,
McCulloch, M., Gagan, M.,Mortimer, G., Chivas, A., Isdale, P.,1994. A high-resolution Sr/Ca
and δ
O coral record from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the 19821983 El
Nino. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 58 (12), 27472754.
McCulloch, M., Mortimer, G., Esat, T., Xianhua, L., Pillans, B., Chappell, J., 1996. High reso-
lution windows into early Holocene climate: Sr/Ca coral records from the Huon Pen-
insula. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 138 (14), 169178.
134 H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
Moberg, A., Sonechkin, D., Holmgren, K., Datsenko, N., Karlén, W., 2005. Highly variable
Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low-and high-resolution
proxy data. Nature 433 (7026), 613617.
Naidu, P., Niitsuma, N., Naik, S., 2014. Oxygen isotopic analyses of individual planktic fo-
raminifera species: implications forseasonality in the western ArabianSea. Clim. Past
Discuss. 10 (5), 36613688.
Oppo, D.W., Rosenthal, Y., Linsley, B.K., 2009.2,000-year-long temperature and hydrology
reconstructions from the Indo-Pacic warm pool. Nature 460 (7259), 11131116.
Patterson, W.P., Dietrich, K.A., Holmden, C., Andrews, J.T., 2010. Two millennia of North
Atlantic seasonality and implications for Norse colonies. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107
(12), 53065310.
Peng, Z.C., Chen, T.G., Nie, B.F., Head, M.J., He, X.X., Zhou, W.J., 2003. Coral delta O-18 re-
cords as an indicator of winter monsoon intensity in the South China Sea. Quat.
Res. 59 (3), 285292.
Rosewater, J., 1965. The family Tridacnidae in the Indo-Pacic. Indo Pac. Mollusca 1,
Schöne, B.R., Dunca, E., Mu tvei, H., Norlund, U., 2004 a. A 217-year record of summ er
air temperature reconstructed from freshwater pearl mussels (M-margaritera,
Sweden). Quat. Sci. Rev. 23 (1617), 18031816.
Schöne, B.R., Freyre Castro, A.D., Fiebig, J., Houk, S.D., Oschmann, W., Kroncke, I., 2004b.
Sea surface water temperatures over the period 18841983 reconstructed from oxy-
gen isotope ratios of a bivalve mollusk shell (Arctica islandica, southern North Sea).
Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 212 (34), 215232.
Schöne, B.R., Fieb ig, J., Pfeiffer, M., Gless, R., Hickson, J., Johnson, A.L.A., Dreyer, W.,
Oschmann, W., 2005. Climate records from a bivalved Methuselah (Arctica islandica,
Mollusca; Iceland). Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 228 (12), 130148.
Seidenkrantz, M. -S., Aagaard-Sør ensen, S., Sulsbrück, H., Kuijpers, A., Jensen, K.G.,
Kunzendorf, H., 2007. Hydrography and climate of the last 4400 yearsin a SW Green-
land fjord: implications for Labrador Sea palaeoceanography. The Holocene 17 (3),
Shintani, T., Yamamoto, M., Chen, M.-T., 2011. Paleoenvironmental changes in the north-
ern South China Sea over the past 28,000 years: a study of TEX
-derived sea surface
temperatures and terrestrial biomarkers. J. Asian Earth Sci. 40 (6), 12211229.
Soon, W.W.-H., 2009. Solar arctic-mediated climate variation on multidecadal to centen-
nial timescales: empirical evidence, mechanistic explanatio n, and testable conse-
quences. Phys. Geogr. 30 (2), 144184.
Soon, W., Baliunas, S., Idso, C., Idso, S.,Legates, D.R., 2003. Reconstructing climatic and en-
vironmental changes of the past 1000 years: a reappraisal. Energy Environ. 14 (2),
Steinke, S., Prange, M., Feist, C., Groeneveld, J., Mohtadi, M., 2014. Upwelling variability off
southern Indonesia over the past two millennia. Geophys. Res. Lett.
Sun, D.H., Gagan, M.K., Cheng, H., Scott-Gagan, H., Dykoski, C.A., Edwards, R.L., Sua, R.X.,
2005. Seasonal and interannual variability of the Mid-Holocene East Asian monsoon
in coral delta O-18 records from the South China Sea. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 237
(12), 6984.
Tan, M., Liu, T., Hou, J., Qin,X., Zhang, H., Li, T., 2003. Cyclic rapid warming on centennial-
scale revealed by a 2650-year stalagmite record of warm season temp erature.
Geophys. Res. Lett. 30 (12), 1617.
Wanamaker, A.D., Kreutz, K.J., Schöne, B.R., Pettigrew, N., Borns, H.W., Introne, D.S.,
Belknap, D., Maasch, K.A., Feindel, S., 2008. Coupled North Atlantic slope water forc-
ing on Gulf of Maine temperatures over the past millennium. Clim. Dyn. 31 (2),
Wanamaker, A.D., Kreutz, K.J., Schöne, B.R., Introne, D.S., 2011. Gulf of Maine shells reveal
changes in seawater temperature seasonality during the Medieval Climate Anomaly
and the Little Ice Age. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 302 (1), 4351.
Wang, L., Sarnthein, M., Erlenkeuser, H., Grimalt, J., Grootes, P., Heilig, S., Ivanova, E.,
Kienast, M., Pelejero, C., Paumann, U., 1999. East Asian monsoon climate during
the Late Pleistocene: high-resolution sediment records from the South China Sea.
Mar. Geol. 156 (1), 245284.
Wang, B., Wu, R., Fu, X., 2000. Pacic-East Asian teleconnection: how does ENSO affect
East Asian climate? J. Clim. 13 (9), 15171536.
Wang, S.W., Wen, X.Y., Luo, Y., Dong, W.J., Zhao, Z.C., Yang, B., 2007. Reconstruction of
temperature series of China for the last 1000 years. Chin. Sci. Bull. 52 (23),
Watanabe, T., Oba, T., 1999. Daily reconstruction of water temperature from oxygen iso-
topic ratios of a modern Tridacna shell using a freezing microtome sampling tech-
nique. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans 104 (C9), 2066720674.
Watanabe,T., Suzuki, A., Kawahata, H., Kan, H., Ogawa, S., 2004. A 60-year isotopic record
from a mid-Holocene fossil giant clam (Tridacna gigas) in the Ryukyu Islands: physi-
ological and paleoclimatic implications. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 212
(34), 343354.
Wei, G., Yu, K., Li, X., Zhao, J., Sun, Y., Nie, B., 2004a. Coralline Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca thermom-
eter for the northern South China Sea: calibration and primary application on high
resolution SST reconstructing. Quat. Sci. 24 (003), 325331 (In Chinese with English
Wei, G.J., Yu, K.F., Zhao, J.X., 2004b. Sea surface temperature variations recorded on coral-
line Sr/Ca ratios during Mid-Late Holocene in Leizhou Peninsula. Chin. Sci. Bull. 49
(17), 18761881.
Wei, G.J., Deng, W.F., Yu, K.F., Li, X.H., Sun, W.D., Zhao, J.X., 2007. Sea surface temperature
records in the northern South China Sea from mid-Holocene coral Sr/Ca ratios.
Paleoceanography 22 (3), PA3206.
Williams, D.F., Arthur, M.A., Jones, D.S., Healy-Williams, N., 1982. Seasonality and mean
annual sea surface temperatures from isotopic and sclerochronological records. Na-
ture (296), 432434.
Wu, W., Tan, W., Zhou, L., Yang, H., Xu, Y., 2012. Sea surface temperature variability in
southernOkinawa Trough duringlast 2700 years. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39 (14), L14705.
Yan, H., Sun, L., Liu, X., Qiu, S., 2010. Relationship between ENSO events and regional cli-
mate anomalies around the Xisha Islands during the last 50 years. J. Trop. Oceanogr.
29 (5), 2935 (In Chinese with English abstract).
Yan, H., Sun, L., Oppo, D.W., Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Xie, Z., Liu, X., Cheng, W., 2011. South China
Sea hydrological changes and Pacic walker circulation variations over the last mil-
lennium. Nat. Commun. 2, 293.
Yan, H., Shao, D., Wang, Y., Sun, L., 2013. Sr/Ca prole of long-lived Tridacnagigas bivalves
from South China Sea: a new high-resolution SST proxy. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta
112, 5265.
Yan, H., Shao, D., Wang, Y., Sun, L., 2014a. Sr/Ca differences within and among three
Tridacnidae species from the South China Sea: implication for paleoclimate recon-
struction. Chem. Geol. 390, 2231.
Yan, H., Sun, L., Shao, D., Wang, Y., 2014b. Higher sea surface temperature in the northern
South China Sea during the natural warm periods of late Holocene than recent de-
cades. Chin. Sci. Bull. 59, 41154122.
Yan, H., Wang, Y., Sun, L.,2014c. High resolution oxygen isotope and grayscale records ofa
medieval fossil giant clam (Tridacna gigas) in the South China Sea: physiological and
paleoclimatic implications. Acta Oceanol. Sin. 33 (8), 1825.
Yang, B., Braeuning, A., Johnson, K.R., Yafeng, S., 2002. General characteristics of temper-
ature variation in China during the last two millennia. Geophys. Res. Lett. 29 (9)
Yu, K., Zhao,J., Liu, T., Wei, G., Wang, P., Collerson, K., 2004. High-frequency winter cooling
and reef coral mortality duringthe Holocene climatic optimum. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett.
224 (12), 143155.
Yu, K., Zhao,J., Wei, G., Cheng, X., Wang, P., 2005. Mid-late Holocene monsoon climate re-
trieved from seasonal Sr/Ca and δ
O records of Porites lutea corals at Leizhou Penin-
sula, northern coast of South China Sea. Glob. Planet. Chang. 47 (24), 301316.
135H. Yan et al. / Earth-Science Reviews 141 (2015) 122135
... The modern T. gigas used in Elliot et al. (2009) was collected from Great Palm Island with a SST seasonality 2-3 • C, the Tridacna specimen used in Warter et al. (2015) was collected from eastern coast of Borneo in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan, near the equator, while the Tridacna spp. specimens used in Yan et al. (2013Yan et al. ( , 2015 were collected from the northern SCS, with an average seasonality of 4.17 • C (1988-2017). Another possible explanation for unclear seasonality patterns of Sr/Ca is that the smaller seasonality of the sampling site may not reach the monitoring limit of Tridacna Sr/Ca seasonality. ...
... Yan et al. (2014a) analyzed the Sr/Ca ratios of modern T. derasa and T. gigas in the northern SCS using ICP-OES, and the relative variability of Sr/Ca variation and SST variation were similar among three specimens. Apart from the modern specimens, Yan et al. (2015) also analyzed the Sr/Ca profile of sub-fossil T. gigas collected from the northern SCS. The results showed the Sr/Ca profiles of sub-fossil shells all had clear annual cycles, similar to modern specimens, then SST seasonality in the northern SCS was reconstructed (Yan et al., 2015). ...
... Apart from the modern specimens, Yan et al. (2015) also analyzed the Sr/Ca profile of sub-fossil T. gigas collected from the northern SCS. The results showed the Sr/Ca profiles of sub-fossil shells all had clear annual cycles, similar to modern specimens, then SST seasonality in the northern SCS was reconstructed (Yan et al., 2015). In view of the above, it can be speculated that Sr/Ca of Tridacna spp. ...
Skeletal remains of marine bivalves, Tridacna spp., can provide multi-proxy records of environmental variables. Sr/Ca ratio, which has been widely used in corals as a paleo-temperature proxy, has also been explored in Tridacna spp. shells in recent decades, but some controversies remain, especially regarding the different Sr/Ca-SST relationships across Tridacnidae species. In this study, ten specimens of three different species (Tridacna gigas, Tridacna squamosa and Tridacna derasa) were collected from the northern South China Sea and the monthly resolution Sr/Ca and δ¹⁸O ratios were investigated. Almost all high-resolution Sr/Ca profiles, determined by ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer), show pronounced annual cycles and are significantly correlated with paired δ¹⁸O value. However, Sr/Ca ratios of T. gigas are positively correlated with paired δ¹⁸O values, suggesting a negative correlation between T. gigas Sr/Ca and in-situ SST, while Sr/Ca ratios of T. derasa and T. squamosa are negatively correlated with paired δ¹⁸O, suggesting a positive correlation between SST and Sr/Ca in T. derasa and T. squamosa. These interspecies differences highlight the necessity of species identification before using Tridacnidae Sr/Ca ratios in paleoclimate reconstructions. Although the Sr/Ca-δ¹⁸O relationship has obvious interspecies differences, the clear annual cycles in all these specimens indicate that the Sr/Ca ratios of Tridacna spp. may have the potential to be used in reconstructing the past climate seasonality, ENSO variability and so on.
... Quantitative reconstructions across the northern SCS have incorporated various paleoclimatic proxies, including Sr/Ca ratios of Tridacna gigas shells (e.g., Yan et al., 2015a), coral Sr/Ca ratios (e.g, Wei et al. (2007)), foraminiferal Mg/Ca ratios (e.g., Steinke et al., 2011), alkenone abundances (e.g., Wu et al., 2017), foraminifera (e.g., Lin et al., 2006;Contreras-Rosales et al., 2019), and diatom assemblages (e.g., Jiang et al., 2014). These reconstructions inferred a more stable Holocene climate comparing to that of the late Pleistocene/Holocene transition. ...
... Core NS02G (Kong et al., 2014), m. Xiasha and Leizhou Peninsula (Yan et al., 2015a;Yu et al., 2005), n. Gulf of Tonkin (Beibuwan) . ...
A high-resolution dinoflagellate cyst analysis on a sediment core GLW1D from the northern South China Sea (SCS) was performed to reconstruct paleoceanographic conditions over the last 12,500 years through qualitative, semi-quantitative, and quantitative methods. A modern dataset with 398 reference sites in the northern Pacific was assembled and used to identify the relationship between dinoflagellate cyst assemblages and sea-surface temperature (SST), sea-surface salinity (SSS) and primary productivity (PP). Modern analog technique (MAT) was applied to offer first dinoflagellate-cyst-based quantitative estimates of Holocene sea-surface conditions in the western North Pacific. The downcore reconstructions show that SST, SSS and PP were predominantly controlled by the changes in coastal and oceanic currents due to the changes of sea level and monsoon systems. Our results indicate that SST increased while SSS and PP decreased from 12,500 to ~6800 cal yr BP, reaching the maximum SST and the minimum SSS and PP during ~6800–5000 cal yr BP, and followed by a slight decline in SST with minor increases in SSS and PP. The three intervals correspond to the regional onshore sea-level stages of rising, stabilization in a highstand and slight drop, respectively. The Kuroshio Current strongly influenced the core site before ~9900 cal yr BP, reflected by the highest abundances of oceanic Impagidinium spp. and high reconstructed SSS values. This can be explained by a lack of water input from the East China Sea before the opening of the Taiwan Strait. The warmest period, from ~6800 cal yr BP to ~5500 cal yr BP, is recorded by the highest Dapsilidinium pastielsii abundances. Two short-term high-PP events of ~2700–2400 cal yr BP and ~1000–600 cal yr BP, which were characterized by opposite climatic conditions, coincided with two notable societal (dynasty) collapses of China. Enhanced anthropogenic activities since the Late Bronze Age most likely partially affected the high PP through influencing river inputs to the northern SCS.
... Previous studies suggested that mean SST in the northern SCS plays a key role in modulating local SST seasonality (Yan et al., 2015). Under colder climate conditions, the decrease of SST in winter is larger than that in summer, which leads to an increase in SST seasonality. ...
Full-text available
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant interannual variability affecting global weather and climate. However, limited observational records hinder our understanding of the evolution of natural ENSO variability and its driving mechanisms. In this study, ENSO variations from 665 to 749 CE (Common Era) were investigated using monthly sea surface temperature (SST) records of the northern South China Sea derived from coral strontium to calcium ratios of sub‐fossil Porites obtained at the Xisha Islands. The results suggested the existence of cold conditions in this period relative to the twentieth century. No change in SST seasonality for the CE was found that is in agreement with the orbitally controlled insolation seasonality at that time. ENSO variability during 665–749 CE was enhanced by 39% than that during 1980–2014 CE and exhibited fluctuations. A persistent dampened ENSO variability with frequent El Niño events from 665 to 700 CE was followed by a rapid increase in variability to a level double that of the present. The frequency of La Niña events increased during this time. The abrupt transformation of ENSO activity at 700 CE was attributed to the increased natural radiative forcing induced by intense solar irradiance and weak volcanism. This paper demonstrates that ENSO variability can be influenced by external forcings, such as changes in solar and volcanic activity, and not only by the internal dynamics of the climate system.
... The late-Holocene includes the most recent warm and cold periods on a geological timescale with a series of abrupt climatic events, including the Roman Warm Period (RWP,~250 BCE-450 CE), the Dark Ages Cold Period (DACP,~450-800 CE), the Medieval Warm Period (MWP,~800-1250 CE), the Little Ice Age (LIA,~1400-1850 CE), and the Current Warm Period (CWP; since 1950 CE) [34][35][36][37] . Records from this time interval enable us to quantify the relationships between TC activity and changes in SST and Asian dust emissions. ...
Full-text available
Instrumental records reveal that intense tropical cyclone (TC) activity varies with tropical sea surface temperature (SST) on annual-decadal scales. Drivers of intense TC activity at the centennial-millennial scale are less clear, due to the sparseness of pre-observational reconstructions. Here, we present a new 2 kyr continuous activity record of intense TCs from offshore eastern China. Our reconstruction indicates that this site witnessed enhanced TC activity during relatively warm periods, with a widespread increase in TC activity during the later part of the Little Ice Age. This latter observation reveals that enhanced TC activity was synchronized with increased Asian dust emissions during the Little Ice Age. TC activity was also lower in the late Roman Warm Period, when SST was higher but Asian dust emissions were lower than in the early phase. Such patterns suggest a centennial-millennial link between TC climatology and a combination of SST changes and Asian dust levels.
... The South China Sea ( Fig. 1) is the world's largest semi-open marginal sea . It is located on the northern edge of the Western Pacific Warm Pool , and is alternately affected by the East Asian summer and winter Monsoons (Yan et al., 2015). Coral reefs are widely distributed across the SCS Yu, 2012). ...
Compared with other ocean basins, annual resolution long-term series of sea-level records in the South China Sea (SCS) are still rare. Here we first analyzed the correlation mechanism between the oxygen stable isotopes (δ¹⁸O) of Porites coral and instrumental sea-level, sea surface salinity (SSS), sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall of the SCS, and NINO 3.4 SST during 1980–2015 CE (Common Era); and we then quantitatively reconstructed sea-level at an annual resolution based on the coral δ¹⁸O in the SCS. The results show that the sea-level fell slightly (−0.73 ± 0.27 mm/yr) during 1850–1900; then has continuously risen (1.31 ± 0.06 mm/yr) with a total increase of 152 ± 7 mm from 1900 to 2015. On the inter-annual timescale, ENSO by mediating the overflow effect of seawater in the Western Pacific Warm Pool and the location of storm genesis in the western Pacific, indirectly affects sea-level, rainfall and SSS, which is finally reflected in changes in coral δ¹⁸O in the SCS. On the long-term timescale, especially since the 1900s, the gradual increase in SST and glaciers and ice sheets meltwater injected into the ocean due to the continuous warming mainly caused by human activities has not only promoted the rise of sea-level, but also caused a gradual negative bias of δ¹⁸Oseawater (i.e. a gradual decrease of SSS), these processes are faithfully recorded by coral δ¹⁸O. Compared with SST, SSS or δ¹⁸Oseawater may play a more important role in promoting the negative bias of coral δ¹⁸O in the SCS. Our study not only provides a better understanding of sea-level history and relationship mechanism around the SCS during 1850–2015 CE, but also may have the potential to provide a valuable proxy for the accurate quantitative reconstruction of sea-level at an annual resolution over a longer time scale for recent past periods.
... The inner layer of the Tridacna spp. shells have been proven to contain archives of high-resolution paleoclimates (Ayling et al., 2015;Welsh et al., 2011;Yan et al., 2013;Yan et al., 2015). Tridacna spp. ...
Sclerochronology is a powerful tool for high resolution paleoclimate and paleoenvironment reconstruction. However, we can only observe annual growth bands using traditional technology for most marine bivalves, hampering the ability to establish daily resolution chronology in order to reconstruct past weather changes. Giant clams (Tridacna spp.) are the largest bivalves in the world. Their hard and dense aragonite shells have clear annual and even daily growth bands, creating the potential for daily resolution chronology establishment and paleoweather reconstruction. In this study, we present two new and reliable methods that resolve daily growth patterns in giant clam shells: (1) Fluorescence image method. Measuring the width between two bright fluorescent bands of the Tridacna shell with the help of CooRecorder 9.0 software based on the clear daily growth bands obtained by laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM). (2) Ultrahigh resolution Sr/Ca method. Counting the amount of Sr/Ca ratio data in each daily cycle derived from Tridacna shell, and then calculating the daily growth increment based on the spatial resolution of Sr/Ca data. The results show the variation of daily growth increments profiles obtained by the two methods synchronize, and the chronology uncertainty is statistically acceptable over a long-term record, indicating that both methods can estimate the daily growth increment of Tridacna shell reliably. The methods developed here lay the foundation for paleoweather reconstruction using daily growth increments of Tridacna spp.
... High-resolution paleodata are important because they provide information on climatic variability from seasonal (e.g., Wanamaker Jr. et al., 2011a;von Leesen et al., 2017;Yan et al., 2015) to inter-annual and decadal timescales (Lohmann and Schöne, 2013) such as the monsoon (Azzoug et al., 2012;Yan et al., 2014a;Höpker et al., 2019), El Niño -Southern Oscillation (Carré et al., 2013;Pérez-Huerta et al., 2013), or the North Atlantic Oscillation. (e.g., Carroll et al., 2011a;Reynolds et al., 2017aReynolds et al., , 2017b. ...
Over the past decade, sclerochronological research has continued to develop rapidly and is diversifying with respect to methods, taxa, geographic coverage as well as temporal depth. Chonologically aligned environmental records from bivalves, gastropods, coralline algae, corals, and many other periodically formed biogenic hard parts are integrated to build networks across broad spatial domains and trophic levels. Replication and exact dating ensure that environmental signals are fully preserved and facilitate the integration among chronologies as well as observational records of climatic and biological phenomena. The proliferation of chronologies promises to usher in a new era of synthesis that integrates tropical to polar environments and links with other high-resolution archives such as tree-ring chronologies to assess broad-scale couplings between the ocean and atmosphere across different latitudes. An increasing number of studies also applies sclerochronological methods to fossils from the more distant past and studies paleoclimate variability in deep time. At the same time, rapid advances are being made in developing, optimizing and validating proxies from isotopes, trace and minor elements, and ultrastructures (aka microstructures) of periodically growing skeletal hard parts to reveal new parameters of environmental variability from these exactly dated frameworks. Beyond the importance for paleoclimatology, information recorded in such archives is of increasing relevance to ecology and management to provide insights on life history, population connectivity, productivity, and disentangling the impacts of natural and anthropogenic environmental and climate change. Likewise, environmental information from archaeological samples are providing new insights into long-term interactions between climate variability and dynamics of past human societies. This introductory review paper provides insights into advances in the field of sclerochronology, with an emphasis on mollusks, including trends in the analysis of growth patterns, development and interpretation of proxies, diversity of taxa used in sclerochronological research, as well as the geographic and temporal coverage of sclerochronological research.
... We applied different band-pass filter windows representative of ENSO periodicities (e.g., 2-7-year, 2-8-year, and 3-7-year) to the SSTA from the Xisha Islands and Niño3.4 regions for the period of 1960-2016, and this analysis suggests that the SST from the Xisha Islands displays high sensitivity to ENSO activity ( Figure S8). We focused on the 3-7-year band-pass filter for our analysis to ensure minimal influence from interactions between ENSO and Asian monsoon variability (Mitsuguchi et al., 2008;Yan et al., 2015), as well as amplitude modulation of the quasi-biennial cycle in the SCS (Charles et al., 1997;Han et al., 2020;Hu et al., 2020;Yan et al., 2017). Sliding variance windows can assist in determining the overall strength of ENSO signal at a particular time and have historically been employed to investigate the changes in ENSO variability (Cobb et al., 2003;Li et al., 2011). ...
Full-text available
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dominates interannual climate variability worldwide and has important environmental and socio‐economic consequences. However, determining the evolution of ENSO variability and its long‐term response to climate forcing remains an ongoing challenge owing to the limited instrumental records. In this study, we quantified ENSO variability via an empirically calibrated threshold and sliding variance windows using monthly sea‐surface temperature (SST) anomalies based on Porites coral Sr/Ca records from the Xisha Islands in the northern South China Sea. Instrumental SST anomalies from the Xisha Islands correctly captured increasing ENSO variability in the twentieth century, with ENSO detection skills similar to those for Niño3.4 regions. Coral Sr/Ca‐SST anomalies can also serve as sensitive and robust proxies for ENSO variability. Sub‐fossil coral Sr/Ca‐SST anomalies indicated intensified ENSO variability at the end of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) from 1149 to 1205 ± 4.9 (2σ) Common Era (CE). Combining our records with other ENSO‐sensitive proxy reconstructions from the tropical Pacific, we observed fluctuating ENSO variability during the MCA and intensified ENSO variability for the late MCA. Considering the fewer and low intensity fluctuations associated with external climate forcing and the absence of a coherent temporal correspondence of ENSO activity with solar irradiance and volcanic eruption during the MCA, we hypothesized that the internal dynamics of the climate system play a prominent role in modulating ENSO variability and its evolution, which is supported by unforced climate model simulations and coral reconstructions across the tropical Pacific.
Few reconstructions of sea-surface temperature (SST) have focused on seasonal and interannual variability, two major components of the global climate system, due to the limited temporal resolution of proxies. This study presents a combined 228-year-long, monthly resolved strontium to calcium ratios (Sr/Ca) record covering the period of 2070–1740 a BP (years before 1950 CE (Common Era)) extracted from three U-series-based sub-fossil Porites corals located on the Xisha Islands, northern South China Sea (SCS). The composite time series allowed for accurate assessment of the natural range of SST variations during snapshots of the Roman Warm Period (RWP). Reconstructed SST revealed that the RWP was characterized by cooler conditions compared with the 20th century, consistent with climatic variations in the western Pacific and East Asia. The amplitude of SST seasonality was within the modern range, except for a lower value at 1980–1928 a BP. Interannual variability associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity was enhanced by 39% relative to 1980–2014 CE. The results of the sliding window demonstrate that ENSO variability persistently strengthened during 2070–2010 a BP, followed by an overall fluctuating attenuation during 1980–1928 a BP. Then, the trends of rising first before descending twice during 1852–1800 a BP appeared. Furthermore, ENSO activity played a leading role in steering short-term changes in SST seasonality in the northern SCS, manifested as stronger ENSO activity with more frequent El Niño events and decreased SST seasonality. Considering that the frequency of extreme ENSO events may strengthen in the future under global warming, the climate in the northern SCS might become more variable and complex.
Full-text available
This paper presents a concise summary of the studies on interdecadal variability of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) from three main perspectives. (1) The EAWM has been significantly affected by global climate change. Winter temperature in China has experienced three stages of variations from the beginning of the 1950s: a cold period (from the beginning of the 1950s to the early or mid 1980s), a warm period (from the early or mid 1980s to the early 2000s), and a hiatus period in recent 10 years (starting from 1998). The strength of the EAWM has also varied in three stages: a stronger winter monsoon period (1950 to 1986/87), a weaker period (1986/87 to 2004/05), and a strengthening period (from 2005). (2) Corresponding to the interdecadal variations of the EAWM, the East Asian atmospheric circulation, winter temperature of China, and the occurrence of cold waves over China have all exhibited coherent interdecadal variability. The upper-level zonal circulation was stronger, the mid-tropospheric trough over East Asia was deeper with stronger downdrafts behind the trough, and the Siberian high was stronger during the cold period than during the warm period. (3) The interdecadal variations of the EAWM seem closely related to major modes of variability in the atmospheric circulation and the Pacific sea surface temperature. When the Northern Hemisphere annular mode/Arctic Oscillation and the Pacific decadal oscillation were in negative (positive) phase, the EAWM was stronger (weaker), leading to colder (warmer) temperatures in China. In addition, the negative (positive) phase of the Atlantic multi decadal oscillation coincided with relatively cold (warm) temperatures and stronger (weaker) EAWMs. It is thus inferred that the interdecadal variations in the ocean may be one of the most important natural factors influencing long-term variability in the EAWM. although global warming may have also played a significant role in weakening the EAWM.
Full-text available
The variation of stable isotopes between individual shells of planktic foraminifera of a given species and size may provide short-term seasonal insight on Paleoceanography. In this context, oxygen isotope analyses of individual Globigerinoides sacculifer and Neogloboquadrina dutertrei were carried out from the Ocean Drilling Program Site 723A in the western Arabian Sea to unravel the seasonal changes for the last 22 kyr. δ18O values of single shells of G. sacculifer range from of 0.54 to 2.09‰ at various depths in the core which cover a time span of the last 22 kyr. Maximum inter-shell δ18O variability and high standard deviation is noticed from 20 to 10 kyr, whereas from 10 kyr onwards the inter shell δ18O variability decreased. The individual contribution of sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS) on the inter shell δ18O values of G. sacculifer were quantified. Maximum seasonal SST between 20 and 14 ka was caused due to weak summer monsoon upwelling and strong cold winter arid continental winds. Maximum SSS differences between 18 and 10 ka is attributed to the increase of net evaporation minus precipitation due to the shift of ITCZ further south. Overall, winter dominated SST signal in Greenland would be responsible to make a teleconnection between Indian monsoon and Greenland temperature. Thus the present study has wider implications in understanding wether the forcing mechanisms of tropical monsoon climate lies in high latitudes or in the tropics.
Full-text available
Modern variability in upwelling off southern Indonesia is strongly controlled by the Australian-Indonesian monsoon and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, but multi-decadal to centennial-scale variations are less clear. We present high-resolution records of upper water column temperature, thermal gradient and relative abundances of mixed layer- and thermocline-dwelling planktonic foraminiferal species off southern Indonesia for the past two millennia that we use as proxies for upwelling variability. We find that upwelling was generally strong during the Little Ice Age (LIA) and weak during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Roman Warm Period (RWP). Upwelling is significantly anti-correlated to East Asian summer monsoonal rainfall and the zonal equatorial Pacific temperature gradient. We suggest that changes in the background state of the tropical Pacific may have substantially contributed to the centennial-scale upwelling trends observed in our records. Our results implicate the prevalence of an El Niño-like mean state during the LIA and a La Niña–like mean state during the MWP and the RWP.
Full-text available
The large-scale syntheses of global mean temperatures in IPCC fourth report suggested that the Northern Hemisphere temperature in the second half of the 20th century was likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years and the 1990s was likely the warmest decade. However, this remains debated and the controversy is centered on whether temperatures during the recent half century were higher than those during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA, AD 800–1300) and the Roman Warm Period (RWP, BC 200–AD 400), the most recent two natural warm periods of the late Holocene. Here the high resolution sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of two time windows around AD 990 (±40) and AD 50 (±40), which located in the MCA and RWP respectively, were reconstructed by the Sr/Ca ratio and δ 18O of Tradacna gigas shells from the northern South China Sea. The results suggested that the mean SSTs around AD 990 (±40) and AD 50 (±40) were 28.1 °C and 28.7 °C, 0.8 °C and 1.4 °C higher than that during AD 1994–2005, respectively. These records, together with the tree ring, lake sediment and literature records from the eastern China and northwest China, imply that the temperatures in recent decades do not seem to exceed the natural changes in MCA, at least in eastern Asia from northwest China to northern SCS.