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Variability of the Deep-Water Overflow in the Luzon Strait

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  • 1 Physical Oceanography Laboratory/Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • | 2 International Pacific Research Center, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu, Hawai‘i
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Abstract

The Luzon Strait, with its deepest sills at the Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, is the only deep connection between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea (SCS). To investigate the deep-water overflow through the Luzon Strait, 3.5 yr of continuous mooring observations have been conducted in the deep Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough. For the first time these observations enable us to assess the detailed variability of the deep-water overflow from the Pacific to the SCS. On average, the along-stream velocity of the overflow is at its maximum at about 120 m above the ocean bottom, reaching 19.9 ± 6.5 and 23.0 ± 11.8 cm s−1 at the central Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, respectively. The velocity measurements can be translated to a mean volume transport for the deep-water overflow of 0.83 ± 0.46 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) at the Bashi Channel and 0.88 ± 0.77 Sv at the Luzon Trough. Significant intraseasonal and seasonal variations are identified, with their dominant time scales ranging between 20 and 60 days and around 100 days. The intraseasonal variation is season dependent, with its maximum strength taking place in March–May. Deep-water eddies are believed to play a role in this intraseasonal variation. On the seasonal time scale, the deep-water overflow intensifies in late fall (October–December) and weakens in spring (March–May), corresponding well with the seasonal variation of the density difference between the Pacific and SCS, for which enhanced mixing in the deep SCS is possibly responsible.

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 9196 and International Pacific Research Center Publication Number IPRC-1076.

Corresponding author address: Jiwei Tian, 238 Songling Road, Physical Oceanography Laboratory/Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China. E-mail: tianjw@ouc.edu.cn

Abstract

The Luzon Strait, with its deepest sills at the Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, is the only deep connection between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea (SCS). To investigate the deep-water overflow through the Luzon Strait, 3.5 yr of continuous mooring observations have been conducted in the deep Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough. For the first time these observations enable us to assess the detailed variability of the deep-water overflow from the Pacific to the SCS. On average, the along-stream velocity of the overflow is at its maximum at about 120 m above the ocean bottom, reaching 19.9 ± 6.5 and 23.0 ± 11.8 cm s−1 at the central Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, respectively. The velocity measurements can be translated to a mean volume transport for the deep-water overflow of 0.83 ± 0.46 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) at the Bashi Channel and 0.88 ± 0.77 Sv at the Luzon Trough. Significant intraseasonal and seasonal variations are identified, with their dominant time scales ranging between 20 and 60 days and around 100 days. The intraseasonal variation is season dependent, with its maximum strength taking place in March–May. Deep-water eddies are believed to play a role in this intraseasonal variation. On the seasonal time scale, the deep-water overflow intensifies in late fall (October–December) and weakens in spring (March–May), corresponding well with the seasonal variation of the density difference between the Pacific and SCS, for which enhanced mixing in the deep SCS is possibly responsible.

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 9196 and International Pacific Research Center Publication Number IPRC-1076.

Corresponding author address: Jiwei Tian, 238 Songling Road, Physical Oceanography Laboratory/Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China. E-mail: tianjw@ouc.edu.cn
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