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Millennial-scale dynamics of the winter cold tongue in the southern South China Sea over the past 26 ka and the East Asian winter monsoon

  • Enqing Huang (a1), Jun Tian (a1) and Stephan Steinke (a1) (a2)

Millennial-scale variations of the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) remain elusive due to sparse and controversial reconstructions. By compiling a variety of alkenone-based sea surface temperature (SST) estimates, we find that the west–east SST gradient in the southern South China Sea (SCS) well documents the temporal dynamics of the winter “cold tongue” off the southern Vietnam and by inference, variations in the EAWM intensity over the past 26 ka. Our results reveal that the winter “cold tongue” SSTs were significantly colder during Heinrich event 1 and the Younger Dryas event, resulting in an increased west–east SST gradient in the southern SCS due to a strengthened EAWM. Within dating uncertainties, an intensified EAWM during cold stadials was coeval with the shutdown or a reduction in strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), exhibiting a strong linkage between the AMOC and the EAWM system. The west–east SST gradient also indicates an enhanced EAWM during the early Holocene, which may be induced by postglacial ice-sheet dynamics and a strong seasonal contrast in solar insolation. Our findings suggest that the EAWM was probably modulated by a complex interplay between the AMOC, solar insolation and ice-sheet dynamics on sub-orbital time scales.

Corresponding author
Corresponding authors. E. Huang is to be contacted now at MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Leobener Strasse, D-28359 Bremen, Germany. J. Tian, State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, 1239 Siping Road, Shanghai 200092, China. Fax: + 86 21 65988808.
E-mail addresses: (E. Huang), (J. Tian)
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