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The Nondeterministic Nature of Kuroshio Penetration and Eddy Shedding in the South China Sea

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  • 1 Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
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Abstract

A ⅛°, 6-layer Pacific version of the Naval Research Laboratory Layered Ocean Model is used to investigate the nondeterministic nature of Kuroshio intrusion and eddy shedding into the South China Sea (SCS) on annual and interannual timescales. Four simulations, which only differ in the initial state, are forced with 1979–93 European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts reanalysis 1000 hectopascal (hPa) winds and then continued in 1994–97 with ECMWF operational 1000-hPa winds. The model shows differing amounts of Kuroshio penetration across all four simulations for the yearly means, indicating a large degree of nondeterminism at this timescale. This nondeterminism is quantified by a technique that separates the variability of a model variable into deterministic (caused by direct atmospheric forcing) and nondeterministic (caused by mesoscale flow instabilities) components. Analysis indicates substantial nondeterministic sea surface height and upper-layer velocity variability in the vicinity of Luzon Strait. A quantitative measure of Kuroshio intrusion into the SCS is presented that allows interexperiment comparisons and investigation of interannual variability, and attempts are made to positively correlate it with the oceanic and atmospheric environment. Yearly mean Kuroshio intrusion is not strongly linked to Luzon Strait transports or to changes in the North Equatorial Current bifurcation latitude (which is related to the northward Kuroshio transport east of Luzon). Likewise, no relationship could be found that linked interannual variability of yearly mean Kuroshio intrusion or monsoon season mean Luzon Strait transport with the corresponding zonal or meridional wind components, wind stress magnitude, or wind stress curl. However, there was a close relationship between the mean seasonal cycles of the Luzon Strait transport and the northeast–southwest monsoon. Eddy shedding and deep Kuroshio intrusion are rare events during the period of ECMWF reanalysis forcing, but are persistent features during the ECMWF operational time frame. While the wind stress is consistent across the reanalysis/operational time boundary, large differences exist in the wind stress curl pattern over the Luzon Strait and interior of the SCS basin. For contemporaneous years, the ECMWF operational winds produce higher curl extrema (by a factor of 2) and a much sharper north–south gradient in Luzon Strait. The net effect is to produce more Ekman pumping, a deepening of the thermocline, and a more deeply penetrating Kuroshio during the 1994–97 ECMWF operational forcing time frame. Thus, while normal interannual variations of the wind curl did not produce a deterministic response of simulated Kuroshio intrusion, the marked differences in curl between the two atmospheric products did have a substantial impact.

Corresponding author address: Mr. E. Joseph Metzger, Naval Research Laboratory, Code 7323, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-5004. Email: metzger@nrlssc.navy.mil

Abstract

A ⅛°, 6-layer Pacific version of the Naval Research Laboratory Layered Ocean Model is used to investigate the nondeterministic nature of Kuroshio intrusion and eddy shedding into the South China Sea (SCS) on annual and interannual timescales. Four simulations, which only differ in the initial state, are forced with 1979–93 European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts reanalysis 1000 hectopascal (hPa) winds and then continued in 1994–97 with ECMWF operational 1000-hPa winds. The model shows differing amounts of Kuroshio penetration across all four simulations for the yearly means, indicating a large degree of nondeterminism at this timescale. This nondeterminism is quantified by a technique that separates the variability of a model variable into deterministic (caused by direct atmospheric forcing) and nondeterministic (caused by mesoscale flow instabilities) components. Analysis indicates substantial nondeterministic sea surface height and upper-layer velocity variability in the vicinity of Luzon Strait. A quantitative measure of Kuroshio intrusion into the SCS is presented that allows interexperiment comparisons and investigation of interannual variability, and attempts are made to positively correlate it with the oceanic and atmospheric environment. Yearly mean Kuroshio intrusion is not strongly linked to Luzon Strait transports or to changes in the North Equatorial Current bifurcation latitude (which is related to the northward Kuroshio transport east of Luzon). Likewise, no relationship could be found that linked interannual variability of yearly mean Kuroshio intrusion or monsoon season mean Luzon Strait transport with the corresponding zonal or meridional wind components, wind stress magnitude, or wind stress curl. However, there was a close relationship between the mean seasonal cycles of the Luzon Strait transport and the northeast–southwest monsoon. Eddy shedding and deep Kuroshio intrusion are rare events during the period of ECMWF reanalysis forcing, but are persistent features during the ECMWF operational time frame. While the wind stress is consistent across the reanalysis/operational time boundary, large differences exist in the wind stress curl pattern over the Luzon Strait and interior of the SCS basin. For contemporaneous years, the ECMWF operational winds produce higher curl extrema (by a factor of 2) and a much sharper north–south gradient in Luzon Strait. The net effect is to produce more Ekman pumping, a deepening of the thermocline, and a more deeply penetrating Kuroshio during the 1994–97 ECMWF operational forcing time frame. Thus, while normal interannual variations of the wind curl did not produce a deterministic response of simulated Kuroshio intrusion, the marked differences in curl between the two atmospheric products did have a substantial impact.

Corresponding author address: Mr. E. Joseph Metzger, Naval Research Laboratory, Code 7323, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-5004. Email: metzger@nrlssc.navy.mil

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