Interannual variability of South China Sea winter circulation: response to Luzon Strait transport and El Niño wind

  • Qiang Wang
  • Lili Zeng
  • Yeqiang Shu
  • Qinyan Liu
  • Tingting Zu
  • Jian Li
  • Ju Chen
  • Yunkai He
  • Dongxiao WangEmail author


The El Niño wind and Luzon Strait transport are important factors modulating the interannual variability of the southern and northern South China Sea (SCS) winter circulation, respectively. The joint effect of El Niño wind and westward Luzon Strait transport drives a dipolar gyre with an anticyclonic (cyclonic) circulation anomaly in the southern (northern) SCS, which enhances the cross-basin current that connects the SCS western boundary current with the eastern boundary of the SCS around the Mindoro Strait, and then effectively modulates the interannual variability of Mindoro Strait transport. An extreme El Niño and large Luzon Strait intrusion occurred in winter 2015/16, and mooring observations and remote sensing data confirmed the presence of an intense dipolar gyre. This resulted in an extreme eastward cross-basin current and outward SCS Mindoro Strait transport anomaly in 2015/16.


South China Sea winter circulation Interannual variability El Niño Luzon strait transport Mindoro strait transport 



The satellite altimeter data is available at The HadISST, SODA, HYCOM and WOA01 data for this paper are available at This work is supported by the Key Special Project for Introduced Talents Team of Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou) (GML2019ZD0304), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 41776026, 41676012, 41521005, 41776025, 41606030, 41576012, and 41876017) and National key research and development program (2017YFA0603201). Qiang Wang is also sponsored by Pearl River S&T Nova Program of Guangzhou (201906010051) and the Independent Research Project Program of State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography (LTOZZ1902). The ADCPs velocity profiles are supplied by the Xisha Deep Sea Observatory, a member of the Network of Field Observation and Research Stations of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The numerical calculation is supported by the high-performance computing division and Ms. Dandan Sui of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou)GuangzhouChina

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