Long-term trends of sea surface temperature (SST) of the East Sea (Sea of Japan, EJS) were estimated by using 37-year-long satellite data, for the observation period from 1982 to 2018. Overall, the SST tended to increase with time, for all analyzed regions. However, the warming trend was steeper in the earlier decades since the 1980s and slowed down during the recent two decades. Based on the analysis of the occurrence of events with extreme SST (high in the summertime and low in the wintertime), a shift toward the more frequent occurrence of events with extremely high SST and the less frequent occurrence of events with extremely low SST has been observed. This supports the observations of the consistent warming of the EJS. However, seasonal trends revealed continuous SST warming in the summertime, but frequent extreme SST cooling in the wintertime, in recent decades. The observed reduction in the warming rates occurred more frequently in specific regions of the EJS, where the occurrence frequency of events with extremely low SST was unusually high in the recent decade. The recent tendency toward the SST cooling was distinctively connected with variations in the Arctic Oscillation index. This suggests that changes in the Arctic Ocean environment likely affect the recently observed SST changes in the EJS, as one of the marginal seas in the mid-latitude region far from the polar region.
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