Daily growth rate variation in Tridacna shells as a record of tropical cyclones in the South China Sea: Palaeoecological implications

Publication Name

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology


Tropical cyclones (TC) are one of the most destructive weather phenomena on Earth. However, the short duration of instrumental weather records mean that little is known of the frequency of TCs through geological time. Here we analyse a Tridacna squamosa shell with a life span about 6 years (from 12 May 2013 to 18 December 2018) from the northern South China Sea. Studies of daily growth rate variations (DGRV) were correlated with coeval environmental changes to develop a proxy for TC. Results reveal that the frequency and variation of extreme DGRV were conspicuously different between the typhoon-affected season (July to October) and relatively stable growth season (March to June). During the typhoon-affected season, the frequency of sudden onset of decreased sea surface temperature, attenuated solar radiation and heavy precipitation can result in more days for extreme decreases of DGRV. On interannual timescale, the frequency of extreme DGRV was significantly correlated with TC influence days. Our findings indicate that the frequency of extreme DGRV profile in Tridacna squamosa shells has potential to be a novel recorder for past TC activity. We conclude that fossil shells in different geological eras offer the potential to extend modern instrumental datasets and provide opportunities for investigating TC activity in response to past and future global change.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



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Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



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