The decline of winter monsoon velocity in the South China Sea through the 20th century: Evidence from the Sr/Ca records in corals

Y. Liu, Zicheng Peng, T. Chen, Gangjian Wei, W. Sun, R. Sun, J. He, G. Liu, Chen-Lin Chou, R. E. Zartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A modern massive Porites coral was collected from the Longwan Bay (19°20′N, 110°39′E) on the east coast of the Hainan Island, China. The coral was sectioned vertical to the growth axis into discs of double density-bands representing annual growth. The samples were analyzed for the Sr/Ca ratio by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The history of winter sea-surface temperature (SST) is reconstructed using the Sr/Ca ratio in winter bands of corals. The winter SST at Xisha in the middle of the South China Sea (SCS) is weakly correlated with the instrument-measured winter monsoon velocity (WMV) with a correlation coefficient of 0.19. The winter SST data from corals at Longwan Bay, Hainan, in the northern SCS are moderately correlated with the WMV (r = 0.40). Interestingly we found that the difference of winter SSTs between the two sites (Xisha and Longwan Bay, Hainan) (the X-H index) is significantly negatively correlated with the WMV (r = - 0.73). This negative correlation may be related to the intrusion of the warm Kuroshio Current into the SCS through the Luzon Strait promoted by the strong northeastern monsoon winds in the winter. Using the relationship between our coralline data and observed WMV, the calculated winter monsoon velocity (WMVc) was obtained for 87 years. This data set in combination with the instrument-measured data between 1993 and 1998 generate a record of WMVc for a period of 93 years from 1906 to 1998. The WMVc in the 20th century shows significant interannual and decadal variability with a trend of persistent decline in the whole 20th century at the rate of decrease of - 0.02 (m/s)/a. The lowest wind velocity occurred during the last two decades of the 20th century. The WMVc has decreased significantly by about 30% from the early to the late of 20th century. The 20th century decline of winter monsoon velocity evidenced from the SCS coral records is consistent with the atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) simulations for monsoon response to increasing temperatures. In addition, an obvious decline shift of WMV around 1976 can be seen in both instrumental and proxy records and it coincides with many other Pacific records. This shift is likely to correspond to a Pacific-wide change in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation occurring at the same time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • ISGS
  • globe warming
  • South China Sea
  • coral
  • East Asian monsoon
  • Kuroshio Current
  • Sr/Ca ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change


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