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The Kuroshio Onshore Intrusion along the Shelf Break of the East China Sea: The Origin of the Tsushima Warm Current

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  • 1 Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, Matsuyama, and Frontier Research Center for Global Change/JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
  • | 2 Frontier Research Center for Global Change/JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
  • | 3 Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, and Frontier Research Center for Global Change/JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
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Abstract

A 1/18° nested ocean model is used to determine locations, volume transports, and temporal variations of Kuroshio onshore fluxes across the shelf break of the East China Sea (ECS). The Kuroshio onshore flux shows strong seasonality: maximum (∼3 Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in autumn and minimum (<0.5 Sv) in summer. Another short-term (∼17 days) variation due to Kuroshio meanders introduces large fluctuations in the onshore fluxes but its seasonal average almost vanishes. The Kuroshio onshore fluxes have two major sources, Kuroshio intrusion northeast of Taiwan and Kuroshio separation southwest of Kyushu; the former provides larger onshore flux than the latter. Therefore, in addition to the waters from the Taiwan Strait and the Kuroshio separation region southwest of Kyushu, the water due to the Kuroshio intrusion northeast of Taiwan is also a major source of the Tsushima Warm Current. A vorticity equation is used to separate the contribution of surface Ekman transport to the Kuroshio onshore fluxes in the ECS from that relating to density fields. For the total Kuroshio onshore flux across the entire shelf break, its seasonal variation is primarily controlled by the Ekman transport while the change in density field is secondary. For the Kuroshio onshore flux at a fixed location along the shelf break, its seasonal variation is primarily related to the change in density field and the Ekman transport is secondary. Furthermore, the role of the Taiwan Strait water and the Kuroshio water across the shelf break on material transport in the ECS is examined with passive tracer experiments. In summer, about half of the tracer in the Tsushima Strait originates in the Taiwan Strait, while the other half comes from the Kuroshio. From summer to winter, the ratio changes dramatically; the contribution from the Taiwan Strait decreases to 20% and that from the Kuroshio increases up to 80%. The tracer originating in the Kuroshio water dominates the bottom layer of the continental shelf in the ECS throughout the year.

Corresponding author address: Xinyu Guo, Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, 2-5 Bunkyo-Cho, Matsuyama 790-8577, Japan. Email: guoxinyu@dpc.ehime-u.ac.jp

Abstract

A 1/18° nested ocean model is used to determine locations, volume transports, and temporal variations of Kuroshio onshore fluxes across the shelf break of the East China Sea (ECS). The Kuroshio onshore flux shows strong seasonality: maximum (∼3 Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in autumn and minimum (<0.5 Sv) in summer. Another short-term (∼17 days) variation due to Kuroshio meanders introduces large fluctuations in the onshore fluxes but its seasonal average almost vanishes. The Kuroshio onshore fluxes have two major sources, Kuroshio intrusion northeast of Taiwan and Kuroshio separation southwest of Kyushu; the former provides larger onshore flux than the latter. Therefore, in addition to the waters from the Taiwan Strait and the Kuroshio separation region southwest of Kyushu, the water due to the Kuroshio intrusion northeast of Taiwan is also a major source of the Tsushima Warm Current. A vorticity equation is used to separate the contribution of surface Ekman transport to the Kuroshio onshore fluxes in the ECS from that relating to density fields. For the total Kuroshio onshore flux across the entire shelf break, its seasonal variation is primarily controlled by the Ekman transport while the change in density field is secondary. For the Kuroshio onshore flux at a fixed location along the shelf break, its seasonal variation is primarily related to the change in density field and the Ekman transport is secondary. Furthermore, the role of the Taiwan Strait water and the Kuroshio water across the shelf break on material transport in the ECS is examined with passive tracer experiments. In summer, about half of the tracer in the Tsushima Strait originates in the Taiwan Strait, while the other half comes from the Kuroshio. From summer to winter, the ratio changes dramatically; the contribution from the Taiwan Strait decreases to 20% and that from the Kuroshio increases up to 80%. The tracer originating in the Kuroshio water dominates the bottom layer of the continental shelf in the ECS throughout the year.

Corresponding author address: Xinyu Guo, Center for Marine Environmental Studies, Ehime University, 2-5 Bunkyo-Cho, Matsuyama 790-8577, Japan. Email: guoxinyu@dpc.ehime-u.ac.jp

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