The seas around China in a warming climate
July 24,2023

Fan Wang, Xuegang Li, Xiaohui Tang, Xiaoxia Sun, Junlong Zhang, Dezhou Yang, Lingjing Xu, Hui Zhang, Huamao Yuan, Yuntao Wang, Yulong Yao, Chunzai Wang, Yaru Guo, Qiuping Ren, Yuanlong Li, Rongwang Zhang, Xin Wang, Bin Zhang & Zhongli Sha

Published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, July 2023

Anthropogenic forcings have led to multifaceted changes in the seas around China, which include the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China Seas, affecting the functions and services they provide. In this Review, we synthesize physical, biogeochemical and biological findings to understand how the seas around China have changed and are projected to change under a warming climate. The average surface temperature of these seas increased by 0.10–0.14 °C dec–1 over 1950–2021. Meanwhile, the annual frequency and average intensity of marine heatwaves increased by 1–2 dec–1 and 0.1–0.3 °C dec–1 since the 1980s, respectively. Terrestrial input has increased nutrient concentrations and composition changes in coastal waters. These warming and nutrient changes have increased the severity of hypoxia and acidification, leading to complex changes in primary productivity. Changes to marine organisms such as plankton, benthos and fish are also apparent, including the northward invasion of warm-water species and miniaturization. These observed changes are projected to persist into the future. These coupled physical–ecological changes highlight the need for strengthened multidisciplinary oceanographic research in the seas around China.

Fig. a, Sea surface temperature44 (SST) trends in the seas around China (SAC) during 1950–2021. The yellow lines delineate the East China Sea (ECS), the South China Sea (SCS) and the Bohai–Yellow Seas (BYS). b, SST234 trends during 1982–2021. c–f, Annual regional average SST from various products3,44,234,235 for the SAC (c), ECS (d), SCS (e) and BYS (f). Surface warming has been prevailingly observed across the SAC. COBE, Centennial in situ Observation-Based Estimates; ERSST, Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature dataset; HadISST, Hadley Centre Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature; OISST, Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature.

Wang, F., Li, X., Tang, X. et al. The seas around China in a warming climate. Nat Rev Earth Environ 4, 535–551 (2023).

Copyright @ 2017 NPOCE. All Rights Reserved.