The position of the South China Sea between the world’s largest land mass and the largest ocean, bridging different climate zones, makes it very susceptible to climatic variations. The summer and winter monsoons, sea level/global ice volume, and insolation exert a strong control on seasonal winds, precipitation and run-off patterns, and the character of land vegetation. Thus, the sediments in the basin provide not only exquisite Quaternary paleoceanographic records, but also records of surrounding continental climate changes. A growing amount of evidence suggests that the tropics play an important role in the global climate system through their influence on the global heat and moisture budgets, as convincingly demonstrated by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon.
Here we present records from MIS 1-12 from the southeastern South China Sea (MD972142). The results show a clear glacial-interglacial eccentricity signal in most measured parameters, while some parameters display the presence of obliquity and precession cyclicity superimposed on the longer cycles. In particular, differences in the isotopic composition of the two planktic foraminifers G. ruber and N. dutertrei show a very clear precessional pattern, indicating that the surface layers of the South China Sea are very sensitive to changes in the monsoon system, ITCZ, and possibly variations in El Niño frequency and intensity.