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Response of the Kuroshio Extension to Rossby Waves Associated with the 1970s Climate Regime Shift in a High-Resolution Ocean Model

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • | 2 Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • | 3 Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
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Abstract

The response of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) to large-scale Rossby waves remotely excited by wind stress changes associated with the 1970s climate regime shift is studied using a high-resolution regional ocean model. Two ensemble simulations are conducted: The control run uses monthly climatological forcing while, in the second ensemble, anomalous forcing is imposed at the model eastern boundary around 165°E derived from a hindcast of decadal changes in subsurface temperature and salinity using a coarser-resolution model of the Pacific basin.

Near the KE, ocean adjustment deviates strongly from the linear Rossby wave dynamics. Most notably, the eastward acceleration of the KE is much narrower in meridional extent than that associated with the incoming Rossby waves imposed on the eastern boundary. This KE acceleration is associated with an enhanced potential vorticity (PV) gradient across the front that is consistent with the inertial western boundary layer theory: the arrival of the Rossby waves at the western boundary causes the eastward current to accelerate, leading to enhanced advection of low (high) PV water of subtropical (subarctic) origin along the western boundary layer. The meridional dipole of PV anomalies results in a pair of anomalous recirculations with a narrow eastward jet in between. A three-layer quasigeostrophic model is used to demonstrate this inertial adjustment mechanism. Finally, transient eddy activity increases significantly and the eddy momentum transport acts to strengthen the mean flow response. The result that ocean physical response to broad-scale atmospheric forcing is large near the KE front has important implications for fisheries research.

+ Additional affiliation: International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

Corresponding author address: Bunmei Taguchi, Department of Meteorology, HIG360, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. Email: bunmei@hawaii.edu

Abstract

The response of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) to large-scale Rossby waves remotely excited by wind stress changes associated with the 1970s climate regime shift is studied using a high-resolution regional ocean model. Two ensemble simulations are conducted: The control run uses monthly climatological forcing while, in the second ensemble, anomalous forcing is imposed at the model eastern boundary around 165°E derived from a hindcast of decadal changes in subsurface temperature and salinity using a coarser-resolution model of the Pacific basin.

Near the KE, ocean adjustment deviates strongly from the linear Rossby wave dynamics. Most notably, the eastward acceleration of the KE is much narrower in meridional extent than that associated with the incoming Rossby waves imposed on the eastern boundary. This KE acceleration is associated with an enhanced potential vorticity (PV) gradient across the front that is consistent with the inertial western boundary layer theory: the arrival of the Rossby waves at the western boundary causes the eastward current to accelerate, leading to enhanced advection of low (high) PV water of subtropical (subarctic) origin along the western boundary layer. The meridional dipole of PV anomalies results in a pair of anomalous recirculations with a narrow eastward jet in between. A three-layer quasigeostrophic model is used to demonstrate this inertial adjustment mechanism. Finally, transient eddy activity increases significantly and the eddy momentum transport acts to strengthen the mean flow response. The result that ocean physical response to broad-scale atmospheric forcing is large near the KE front has important implications for fisheries research.

+ Additional affiliation: International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii

Corresponding author address: Bunmei Taguchi, Department of Meteorology, HIG360, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. Email: bunmei@hawaii.edu

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