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Episodic Reef Growth in the Northern South China Sea linked to Warm Climate During the Past 7,000 Years: Potential for Future Coral Refugia

Journal Article


Abstract


  • High-precision uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating of dead branching corals from Luhuitou reef, Sanya, northern South China Sea indicates that the reef framework grew episodically over the past 7,000 years. Episodes of coral reef growth (“switch-on” phases) occurred in response to regional warming during the mid-Holocene Climate Optimum, Medieval Warm Period, and Current Warm Period, when the East Asian summer monsoon was strong and the East Asian winter monsoon was weak. In contrast, episodes when reef growth dramatically slowed or ceased (“switch-off” phases) occurred during comparatively cold periods (e.g., Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age) and are linked to abrupt weakening of the East Asian summer monsoon and concurrent strengthening of the East Asian winter monsoon. In the context of global warming, the northern South China Sea may become an important refugium for coral reef growth of up to 2 °C above present, but only if local anthropogenic pressures are reduced.

Publication Date


  • 2019

Citation


  • Yan, S., Zhao, J. X., Lau, A. Y. A., Roff, G., Leonard, N. D., Clark, T. R., . . . Chen, X. (2019). Episodic Reef Growth in the Northern South China Sea linked to Warm Climate During the Past 7,000 Years: Potential for Future Coral Refugia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 124(4), 1032-1043. doi:10.1029/2018JG004939

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85065205205

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 1032

End Page


  • 1043

Volume


  • 124

Issue


  • 4

Abstract


  • High-precision uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating of dead branching corals from Luhuitou reef, Sanya, northern South China Sea indicates that the reef framework grew episodically over the past 7,000 years. Episodes of coral reef growth (“switch-on” phases) occurred in response to regional warming during the mid-Holocene Climate Optimum, Medieval Warm Period, and Current Warm Period, when the East Asian summer monsoon was strong and the East Asian winter monsoon was weak. In contrast, episodes when reef growth dramatically slowed or ceased (“switch-off” phases) occurred during comparatively cold periods (e.g., Dark Age Cold Period and Little Ice Age) and are linked to abrupt weakening of the East Asian summer monsoon and concurrent strengthening of the East Asian winter monsoon. In the context of global warming, the northern South China Sea may become an important refugium for coral reef growth of up to 2 °C above present, but only if local anthropogenic pressures are reduced.

Publication Date


  • 2019

Citation


  • Yan, S., Zhao, J. X., Lau, A. Y. A., Roff, G., Leonard, N. D., Clark, T. R., . . . Chen, X. (2019). Episodic Reef Growth in the Northern South China Sea linked to Warm Climate During the Past 7,000 Years: Potential for Future Coral Refugia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 124(4), 1032-1043. doi:10.1029/2018JG004939

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85065205205

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 1032

End Page


  • 1043

Volume


  • 124

Issue


  • 4