Meridional Eddy Heat Flux in the Kuroshio Extension Current

R. L. Bernstein Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093

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W. B. White Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093

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Abstract

A set of 19 zonal vertical sections of temperature were collected in 1975 with XBT observations at 80 km spacing, made from ships-of-opportunity transiting the mid-latitude North Pacific. In the region of the Kuroshio Extension Current, around 35°N, 165°E to 170°W, cross-spectral analysis reveals a significant 30° phase shift, upwards to the west, for the dominant mesoscale features of ∼500 km wavelength. This phase shift implies that a poleward eddy flux of heat exists, associated with these mesoscale eddies. A simple calculation of the meridional eddy heat flux based on these results indicates an eddy flux of 3 × 1014 W over the length of the Kuroshio Extension. This value is 17% of that estimated by Oort and Vonder Haar (1976) to be the total ocean heat flux at 40°N over the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Abstract

A set of 19 zonal vertical sections of temperature were collected in 1975 with XBT observations at 80 km spacing, made from ships-of-opportunity transiting the mid-latitude North Pacific. In the region of the Kuroshio Extension Current, around 35°N, 165°E to 170°W, cross-spectral analysis reveals a significant 30° phase shift, upwards to the west, for the dominant mesoscale features of ∼500 km wavelength. This phase shift implies that a poleward eddy flux of heat exists, associated with these mesoscale eddies. A simple calculation of the meridional eddy heat flux based on these results indicates an eddy flux of 3 × 1014 W over the length of the Kuroshio Extension. This value is 17% of that estimated by Oort and Vonder Haar (1976) to be the total ocean heat flux at 40°N over the entire Northern Hemisphere.

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