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Decadal Shifts of the Kuroshio Extension Jet: Application of Thin-Jet Theory

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  • 1 International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • | 2 International Pacific Research Center, and Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

Meridional shifts of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet on decadal time scales are examined using a 1960–2004 hindcast simulation of an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model for the Earth Simulator (OFES). The leading mode of the simulated KE represents the meridional shifts of the jet on decadal time scales with the largest southward shift in the early 1980s associated with the climate regime shift in 1976/77, a result confirmed with subsurface temperature observations. The meridional shifts originate east of the date line and propagate westward along the mean jet axis, a trajectory inconsistent with the traditionally used linear long Rossby waves linearized in Cartesian coordinates, although the phase speed is comparable to that in the traditional framework. The zonal scale of these westward propagation signals is about 4000 km and much larger than their meridional scale. To understand the mechanism for the westward propagation of the KE jet shifts, the authors consider the limit of a thin jet. This dynamic framework describes the temporal evolution of the location of a sharp potential vorticity front under the assumption that variations along the jet are small compared to variations normal to the jet in natural coordinates and is well suited to the strong jet and potential vorticity gradients of the KE. For scaling appropriate to the decadal adjustments in the KE, the thin-jet model successfully reproduces the westward propagations and decadal shifts of the jet latitude simulated in OFES. These results give a physical basis for the prediction of decadal variability in the KE.

International Pacific Research Center Publication Number 746 and School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 8096.

Current affiliation: Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.

Corresponding author address: Yoshi N. Sasaki, Science 8th bldg, 8-3-20, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, N10, W8, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan. E-mail: sasakiyo@mail.sci.hokudai.ac.jp

Abstract

Meridional shifts of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet on decadal time scales are examined using a 1960–2004 hindcast simulation of an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model for the Earth Simulator (OFES). The leading mode of the simulated KE represents the meridional shifts of the jet on decadal time scales with the largest southward shift in the early 1980s associated with the climate regime shift in 1976/77, a result confirmed with subsurface temperature observations. The meridional shifts originate east of the date line and propagate westward along the mean jet axis, a trajectory inconsistent with the traditionally used linear long Rossby waves linearized in Cartesian coordinates, although the phase speed is comparable to that in the traditional framework. The zonal scale of these westward propagation signals is about 4000 km and much larger than their meridional scale. To understand the mechanism for the westward propagation of the KE jet shifts, the authors consider the limit of a thin jet. This dynamic framework describes the temporal evolution of the location of a sharp potential vorticity front under the assumption that variations along the jet are small compared to variations normal to the jet in natural coordinates and is well suited to the strong jet and potential vorticity gradients of the KE. For scaling appropriate to the decadal adjustments in the KE, the thin-jet model successfully reproduces the westward propagations and decadal shifts of the jet latitude simulated in OFES. These results give a physical basis for the prediction of decadal variability in the KE.

International Pacific Research Center Publication Number 746 and School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 8096.

Current affiliation: Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.

Corresponding author address: Yoshi N. Sasaki, Science 8th bldg, 8-3-20, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, N10, W8, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan. E-mail: sasakiyo@mail.sci.hokudai.ac.jp
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