The Kuroshio East of Taiwan: Moored Transport Observations from the WOCE PCM-1 Array

William E. Johns Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Thomas N. Lee Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Dongxiao Zhang Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Rainer Zantopp Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

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Cho-Teng Liu Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

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Yih Yang Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

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Abstract

Observations from the WOCE PCM-1 moored current meter array east of Taiwan for the period September 1994 to May 1996 are used to derive estimates of the Kuroshio transport at the entrance to the East China Sea. Three different methods of calculating the Kuroshio transport are employed and compared. These methods include 1) a “direct” method that uses conventional interpolation of the measured currents and extrapolation to the surface and bottom to estimate the current structure, 2) a “dynamic height” method in which moored temperature measurements from moorings on opposite sides of the channel are used to estimate dynamic height differences across the current and spatially averaged baroclinic transport profiles, and 3) an “adjusted geostrophic” method in which all moored temperature measurements within the array are used to estimate a relative geostrophic velocity field that is referenced and adjusted by the available direct current measurements. The first two methods are largely independent and are shown to produce very similar transport results. The latter two methods are particularly useful in situations where direct current measurements may have marginal resolution for accurate transport estimates. These methods should be generally applicable in other settings and illustrate the benefits of including a dynamic height measuring capability as a backup for conventional direct transport calculations. The mean transport of the Kuroshio over the 20-month duration of the experiment ranges from 20.7 to 22.1 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) for the three methods, or within 1.3 Sv of each other. The overall mean transport for the Kuroshio is estimated to be 21.5 Sv with an uncertainty of 2.5 Sv. All methods show a similar range of variability of ±10 Sv with dominant timescales of several months. Fluctuations in the transport are shown to have a robust vertical structure, with over 90% of the transport variance explained by a single vertical mode. The moored transports are used to determine the relationship between Kuroshio transport and sea-level difference between Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands, allowing for long-term monitoring of the Kuroshio inflow to the East China Sea.

Corresponding author address: Dr. William E. Johns, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33146-1098.

Email: wjohn@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

Observations from the WOCE PCM-1 moored current meter array east of Taiwan for the period September 1994 to May 1996 are used to derive estimates of the Kuroshio transport at the entrance to the East China Sea. Three different methods of calculating the Kuroshio transport are employed and compared. These methods include 1) a “direct” method that uses conventional interpolation of the measured currents and extrapolation to the surface and bottom to estimate the current structure, 2) a “dynamic height” method in which moored temperature measurements from moorings on opposite sides of the channel are used to estimate dynamic height differences across the current and spatially averaged baroclinic transport profiles, and 3) an “adjusted geostrophic” method in which all moored temperature measurements within the array are used to estimate a relative geostrophic velocity field that is referenced and adjusted by the available direct current measurements. The first two methods are largely independent and are shown to produce very similar transport results. The latter two methods are particularly useful in situations where direct current measurements may have marginal resolution for accurate transport estimates. These methods should be generally applicable in other settings and illustrate the benefits of including a dynamic height measuring capability as a backup for conventional direct transport calculations. The mean transport of the Kuroshio over the 20-month duration of the experiment ranges from 20.7 to 22.1 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) for the three methods, or within 1.3 Sv of each other. The overall mean transport for the Kuroshio is estimated to be 21.5 Sv with an uncertainty of 2.5 Sv. All methods show a similar range of variability of ±10 Sv with dominant timescales of several months. Fluctuations in the transport are shown to have a robust vertical structure, with over 90% of the transport variance explained by a single vertical mode. The moored transports are used to determine the relationship between Kuroshio transport and sea-level difference between Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands, allowing for long-term monitoring of the Kuroshio inflow to the East China Sea.

Corresponding author address: Dr. William E. Johns, Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33146-1098.

Email: wjohn@rsmas.miami.edu

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