The timing and magnitude of sea-surface temperature (SST) changes in the tropical southern South China Sea (SCS) during the last 16,500 years have been reconstructed on a high-resolution, 14C-dated sediment core using three different foraminiferal transfer functions (SIMMAX28, RAM, FP-12E) and geochemical (Uk′
37) SST estimates. In agreement with CLIMAP reconstructions, both the FP-12E and the Uk′
37 SST estimates show an average late glacial–interglacial SST difference of 2.0°C, whereas the RAM and SIMMAX28 foraminiferal transfer functions show only a minor (0.6°C) or no consistent late glacial–interglacial SST change, respectively. Both the Uk′
37 and the FP-12E SST estimates, as well as the planktonic foraminiferal δ18O values, indicate an abrupt warming (ca. 1°C in <200 yr) at the end of the last glaciation, synchronous (within dating uncertainties) with the Bølling transition as recorded in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core, whereas the RAM-derived deglacial SST increase appears to lag during this event by ca. 500 yr. The similarity in abruptness and timing of the warming associated with the Bølling transition in Greenland and the southern SCS suggest a true synchrony of the Northern Hemisphere warming at the end of the last glaciation. In contrast to the foraminiferal transfer function estimates that do not indicate any consistent cooling associated with the Younger Dryas (YD) climate event in the tropical SCS, the Uk′
37 SST estimates show a cooling of ca. 0.2–0.6°C compared to the Bølling–Allerød period. These Uk′
37 SST estimates from the southern SCS argue in favor of a Northern Hemisphere-wide, synchronous cooling during the YD period.