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Feng Nan, Huijie Xue, Fei Chai, Dongxiao Wang, Fei Yu, Maochong Shi, Peifang Guo, and Peng Xiu

Abstract

Inferred from the satellite and in situ hydrographic data from the 1990s and 2000s, the Kuroshio intrusion into the South China Sea (SCS) had a weakening trend over the past two decades. Associated with the weakened Kuroshio intrusion, the Kuroshio loop and eddy activity southwest of Taiwan became weaker, whereas the water above the salinity minimum became less saline in the northern SCS. The sea surface height southwest of Taiwan increased at a slower rate compared to other regions of the SCS because of the weakened Kuroshio intrusion. Simulations using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) Pacific model show that the strength of the Kuroshio intrusion into the SCS decreased from 1993 to 2010 with a negative trend, −0.24 sverdrups (Sv) yr−1 (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), in the total Luzon Strait transport (LST). Although wind-induced Ekman transport through the Luzon Strait became weaker, the magnitude at 0.001 Sv yr−1 was too small to compensate for the negative trend of the LST. On the other hand, the piling up of the water induced by monsoon winds was an important mechanism for changing the pressure gradient across the Luzon Strait and eventually affecting the LST. The sea level gradient between the western Pacific and the SCS had a negative trend, −0.10 cm yr−1, corresponding to a negative trend in the geostrophic transport at −0.20 Sv yr−1. The Kuroshio transport east of Luzon Island also had a negative trend, which might also be linked to the weakening Kuroshio intrusion.

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Mingting Li, Huijie Xue, Jun Wei, Linlin Liang, Arnold L. Gordon, and Song Yang

Abstract

The role of the Mindoro Strait–Sibutu Passage pathway in influencing the Luzon Strait inflow to the South China Sea (SCS) and the SCS multilayer circulation is investigated with a high-resolution (0.1° × 0.1°) regional ocean model. Significant changes are evident in the SCS upper-layer circulation (250–900 m) by closing the Mindoro–Sibutu pathway in sensitivity experiments, as Luzon Strait transport is reduced by 75%, from −4.4 to −1.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). Because of the vertical coupling between the upper and middle layers, closing the Mindoro–Sibutu pathway also weakens clockwise circulation in the middle layer (900–2150 m), but there is no significant change in the deep layer (below 2150 m). The Mindoro–Sibutu pathway is an important branch of the SCS throughflow into the Indonesian Seas. It is also the gateway for oceanic waves propagating clockwise around the Philippines Archipelago from the western Pacific Ocean into the eastern SCS, projecting El Niño–Southern Oscillation sea level signals to the SCS, impacting its interannual variations and multilayer circulation. The results provide insights into the dynamics of how upstream and downstream passage throughflows are coupled to affect the general circulation in marginal seas.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Xiaolin Zhang, Linlin Liang, Huijie Xue, Ke Huang, Yunkai He, Jian Li, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

Using 4-yr mooring observations and ocean circulation model experiments, this study characterizes the spatial and temporal variability of the Equatorial Intermediate Current (EIC; 200–1200 m) in the Indian Ocean and investigates the causes. The EIC is dominated by seasonal and intraseasonal variability, with interannual variability being weak. The seasonal component dominates the midbasin with a predominant semiannual period of ~166 days but weakens toward east and west where the EIC generally exhibits large intraseasonal variations. The resonant second and fourth baroclinic modes at the semiannual period make the largest contribution to the EIC, determining the overall EIC structures. The higher baroclinic modes, however, modify the EIC’s vertical structures, forming multiple cores during some time periods. The EIC intensity has an abrupt change near 73°E, which is strong to the east and weak to the west. Model simulation suggests that the abrupt change is caused primarily by the Maldives, which block the propagation of equatorial waves. The Maldives impede the equatorial Rossby waves, reducing the EIC’s standard deviation associated with reflected Rossby waves by ~48% and directly forced waves by 20%. Mode decomposition further demonstrates that the semiannual resonance amplitude of the second baroclinic mode reduces by 39% because of the Maldives. However, resonance amplitude of the four baroclinic mode is less affected, because the Maldives fall in the node region of mode 4’s resonance. The research reveals the spatiotemporal variability of the poorly understood EIC, contributing to our understanding of equatorial wave–current dynamics.

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Yeqiang Shu, Jinghong Wang, Huijie Xue, Rui Xin Huang, Ju Chen, Dongxiao Wang, Qiang Wang, Qiang Xie, and Weiqiang Wang

Abstract

Strong subinertial variability near a seamount at the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea was revealed by mooring observations from January 2017 to January 2018. The intraseasonal deep flows presented two significant frequency bands, with periods of 9–20 and 30–120 days, corresponding to topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) and deep eddies, respectively. The TRW and deep eddy signals explained approximately 60% of the kinetic energy of the deep subinertial currents. The TRWs at the Ma, Mb, and Mc moorings had 297, 262, and 274 m vertical trapping lengths, and ∼43, 38, and 55 km wavelengths, respectively. Deep eddies were independent from the upper layer, with the largest temperature anomaly being >0.4°C. The generation of the TRWs was induced by mesoscale perturbations in the upper layer. The interaction between the cyclonic–anticyclonic eddy pair and the seamount topography contributed to the generation of deep eddies. Owing to the potential vorticity conservation, the westward-propagating tilted interface across the eddy pair squeezed the deep-water column, thereby giving rise to negative vorticity west of the seamount. The strong front between the eddy pair induced a northward deep flow, thereby generating a strong horizontal velocity shear because of lateral friction and enhanced negative vorticity. Approximately 4 years of observations further confirmed the high occurrence of TRWs and deep eddies. TRWs and deep eddies might be crucial for deep mixing near rough topographies by transferring mesoscale energy to small scales.

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