The South China Sea (SCS) is one of the largest marginal seas of the West Pacific Ocean, with a surface area of 3.5 × lO6 km2. It extends across the tropical and sub-tropical zones, with an average annual precipitation of 2000 mm. A large amount of freshwater enters the sea from the Zhujiang (Pearl) River in the north and from the Mekong River in the southwest. The SCS is connected to the East China Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Sulu Sea, the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean through the Taiwan, Bashi, Balabac, Karimata, and Malacca straits, respectively. All these straits are narrow and shallow, except the Bashi Channel whose maximum depth is over 2000 m. Consequently, the SCS is a semi-enclosed water body. The bottom topography of the SCS is complicated. Wide continental shelves appear in the north and in the south; steep slopes in the east and in the west. The 200 m isobath encloses a NE-elongated rhomboid basin. The Luzon, Manila, and Nansha troughs are distributed on the east slope, while the Dongsha, Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands form underwater plateaus. Strong northeastly winter monsoon and weaker southwestly summer monsoon prevail at the sea surface. Due to the great expanse of the SCS, the beginning and ending of winter or summer monsoon may lag for up to three months from the south to the north. During the transitional periods between winter and summer monsoons, different controlling wind fields may coexist at the sea surface. These environmental factors have determined the hydrological features and the complex current patterns of the SCS.
- Summer Monsoon
- Tropical Cyclone
- Winter Monsoon
- Nansha Island
- Cold Eddy
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Qi-zhou, H., Wen-zhi, W., Li, Y.S., Li, C.W. (1994). Current Characteristics Of The South China Sea. In: Di, Z., Yuan-Bo, L., Cheng-Kui, Z. (eds) Oceanology of China Seas. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-0862-1_5
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