A high-resolution multiproxy record, including pollen, foraminifera, and alkenone paleothermometry, obtained from a single core (DG9603) from the Okinawa Trough, East China Sea (ECS), provided unambiguous evidence for asynchronous climate change between the land and ocean over the past 40 ka. On land, the deglacial stage was characterized by rapid warming, as reflected by paleovegetation, and it began ca. 15 kaBP, consistent with the timing of the last deglacial warming in Greenland. However, sea surface temperature estimates from foraminifera and alkenone paleothermometry increased around 20–19 kaBP, as in the Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP). Sea surface temperatures in the Okinawa Trough were influenced mainly by heat transport from the tropical western Pacific Ocean by the Kuroshio Current, but the epicontinental vegetation of the ECS was influenced by atmospheric circulation linked to the northern high-latitude climate. Asynchronous terrestrial and marine signals of the last deglacial warming in East Asia were thus clearly related to ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. We argue that (i) early warming seawater of the WPWP, driven by low-latitude insolation and trade winds, moved northward via the Kuroshio Current and triggered marine warming along the ECS around 20–19 kaBP similar to that in the WPWP, and (ii) an almost complete shutdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation ca. 18–15 kaBP was associated with cold Heinrich stadial-1 and delayed terrestrial warming during the last deglacial warming until ca. 15 kaBP at northern high latitudes, and hence in East Asia. Terrestrial deglacial warming therefore lagged behind marine changes by ca. 3–4 ka.
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