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Long-term variability of sea surface temperature (SST) in the Taiwan Strait was studied from the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre climatological data set HadISST1. In 1957–2011, three epochs were identified. The first epoch of cooling SST lasted through 1976. The regime shift of 1976–1977 led to an extremely rapid warming of 2.1 °C in 22 years. Another regime shift occurred in 1998–1999, resulting in a 1.0 °C cooling by 2011. The cross-frontal gradient between the China Coastal Current and offshore Taiwan Strait waters has abruptly decreased in 1992 and remained low through 2011. The long-term warming of SST increased towards the East China Sea, where the SST warming in 1957–2011 was about three times that in the South China Sea. The long-term warming was strongly enhanced in winter, with the maximum warming of 3.8 °C in February. The wintertime amplification of long-term warming has resulted in a decrease of the north–south SST range from 5 to 4 °C and a decrease in the amplitude of seasonal cycle of SST from 11 to 8 °C.

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