Received: 21 Dec 2017 – Discussion started: 02 Jan 2018
Abstract. We present a short overview of the long-term mean and variability of five Essential Climate Variables observed in the South China Sea over the last 3 decades, including sea surface temperature (SST), sea level anomaly (SLA), precipitation (P), surface wind and water discharge (WD) from the Mekong and Red Rivers. At the seasonal time scale, SST and SLAs increase in the summer (up to 4.2 °C and 14 cm, respectively), and P increases in the north. The summer zonal and meridional winds reverse and intensify (mostly over the ocean), and the WD shows positive anomalies. At the interannual time scale, each variable appears to be correlated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indices. Eastern Pacific El Niño events produce basin-wide SST warming (up to 1.4 °C) with a 6-month lag. The SLAs fall basin-wide (by up to 9 cm) during an El Niño event (all types), with a 3-month lag. The zonal and meridional winds strengthen (up to 4 m/s) in the north (weaken in the south) during all types of El Niño events, with a 3–5-month lag. A rainfall deficit of approximately 30 % of the mean occurs during all types of El Niño phases. The Mekong River WD is reduced by 1/3 of the mean 7–8 months after all types of El Niño events. We also show increasing trends of SST as high as 0.24 °C/decade and SLAs by 41 mm/decade. Increasing trends are observed for zonal wind, which is possibly linked to the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and decreasing trends are observed for P in the north and both WD stations that were analyzed. The likely driving mechanisms and some of the relationships between all observed anomalies are discussed
How to cite. Piton, V. and Delcroix, T.: Seasonal and interannual (ENSO) climate variabilities and trends in the South China Sea over the last three decades, Ocean Sci. Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2017-104, 2018.
The South China Sea is the largest marginal sea in Southeast Asia, and the second busiest maritime route in the world. Its complex climate is influenced by a tropical and a subtropical climate, and by the four adjacent monsoon subsystems. We present a short overview of the long-term mean and variability of five Essential Climate Variables observed over the last 3 decades, including sea surface temperature, sea level, precipitation, surface wind and water discharge from the Mekong and Red Rivers.
The South China Sea is the largest marginal sea in Southeast Asia, and the second busiest...