Variability of sea surface temperature and warm pool area in the South China Sea and its relationship to the western Pacific warm pool
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Sea surface temperature (SST) data derived from satellite and in situ measurements are used to study the thermal variability in the South China Sea (SCS). Time–frequency–energy distributions, periods of variability, and trends are computed by the Hilbert–Huang transform method. The SST trend from 1982 to 2005 is 0.276°C per decade in the SCS which is higher than 0.144°C per decade in the western Pacific warm pool (WPWP). The warm pool (SST ≥ 28°C) area in the SCS has increased by 0.20 × 106 km2 per decade. The SST and area of the warm pool in the SCS are strongly correlated, respectively, with the SST and area of the WPWP with a time lag of 1 month, suggestive of a strong connection between these two warm pools. Once the annual cycle is eliminated, decadal oscillations dominate the variability of SST and warm pool area in the SCS.