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Ya Yang
,
Xiang Li
,
Jing Wang
, and
Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

The North Equatorial Subsurface Current (NESC) is a subthermocline ocean current uncovered recently in the tropical Pacific Ocean, flowing westward below the North Equatorial Countercurrent. In this study, the dynamics of the seasonal cycle of this current are studied using historical shipboard acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements and Argo absolute geostrophic currents. Both data show a westward current at the depths of 200–1000 m between 4° and 6°N, with a typical core speed of about 5 and 2 cm s−1, respectively. The subsurface current originates in the eastern Pacific, with its core descending to deeper isopycnal surfaces and moving to the equator as it flows westward. The zonal velocity of the NESC shows pronounced seasonal variability, with the annual-cycle harmonics of vertical isothermal displacement and zonal velocity presenting characters of vertically propagating baroclinic Rossby waves. A simple analytical Rossby wave model is employed to simulate the propagation of the seasonal variations of the westward zonal currents successfully, which is the basis for exploring the wind forcing dynamics. The results suggest that the wind curl forcing in the central-eastern basin between 170° and 140°W associated with the meridional movement of the intertropical convergence zone dominates the NESC seasonal variability in the western Pacific, with the winds west of 170°W and east of 140°W playing a minor role in the forcing.

Free access
Chengyan Liu
,
Zhaomin Wang
,
Xi Liang
,
Xiang Li
,
Xichen Li
,
Chen Cheng
, and
Di Qi

Abstract

Warm deep water intrusion over the Antarctic continental shelves threatens the Antarctic ice sheet stability by enhancing the basal melting of ice shelves. In East Antarctica, the Antarctic Slope Current (ASC), along with the Antarctic Slope Front (ASF), acts as a potential vorticity barrier to prevent the warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) from ventilating the cold and fresh shelf. However, mCDW onshore transport is still observed within certain shelf regions, such as submarine troughs running perpendicular to the continental shelf. This study focuses on the dynamic mechanisms governing mCDW intrusion within a submarine trough over the fresh shelf regions, East Antarctica. Based on an idealized eddy-resolving coupled ocean–ice shelf model, two high-resolution process-oriented numerical experiments are conducted to reveal the mechanisms responsible for the mCDW onshore transport. Three dynamic mechanisms governing cross-slope mCDW intrusion are identified: 1) the bottom pressure torque, 2) the topography beta spiral, and 3) the topography Rossby waves. These three mechanisms simultaneously govern the mCDW intrusion together. The bottom pressure torque plays a leading role in driving the time-mean onshore flow whose vertical structure is determined by the topography beta spiral, while the topography Rossby waves contribute to the high-frequency oscillations in the onshore volume and heat transport. The simulated spatial distribution and seasonality of mCDW intrusion qualitatively coincide with the observed mCDW intrusion over fresh shelf regions, East Antarctica. Both the topography beta spiral and the ASC play an important role in governing the seasonality of mCDW intrusion.

Open access
Shuwen Tan
,
Larry J. Pratt
,
Dongliang Yuan
,
Xiang Li
,
Zheng Wang
,
Yao Li
,
Corry Corvianawatie
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Asep S. Budiman
, and
Ahmad Bayhaqi

Abstract

Hydrographic measurements recently acquired along the thalweg of the Lifamatola Passage combined with historical moored velocity measurements immediately downstream of the sill are used to study the hydraulics, transport, mixing, and entrainment in the dense overflow. The observations suggest that the mean overflow is nearly critical at the mooring site, suggesting that a weir formula may be appropriate for estimating the overflow transport. Our assessment suggests that the weir formulas corresponding to a rectangular, triangular, or parabolic cross section all result in transports very close to the observation, suggesting their potential usage in long-term monitoring of the overflow transport or parameterizing the transport in numerical models. Analyses also suggest that deep signals within the overflow layer are blocked by the shear flow from propagating upstream, whereas the shallow wave modes of the full-depth continuously stratified flow are able to propagate upstream from the Banda Sea into the Maluku Sea. Strong mixing is found immediately downstream of the sill crest, with Thorpe-scale-based estimates of the mean dissipation rate within the overflow up to 1.1 × 10−7 W kg−1 and the region-averaged diapycnal diffusivity within the downstream overflow in the range of 2.3 × 10−3 to 10.1 × 10−3 m2 s−1. Mixing in the Lifamatola Passage results in 0.6–1.2-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) entrainment transport added to the overflow, enhancing the deep-water renewal in the Banda Sea. A bulk diffusivity coefficient estimated in the deep Banda Sea yields 1.6 × 10−3 ± 5 × 10−4 m2 s−1, with an associated downward turbulent heat flux of 9 W m−2.

Free access
Xiang Li
,
Dongliang Yuan
,
Zheng Wang
,
Yao Li
,
Corry Corvianawatie
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Asep Sandra
,
Ahmad Bayhaqi
,
Praditya Avianto
,
Edi Kusmanto
,
Dirham Dirhamsyah
, and
Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The ocean currents in the Halmahera Sea are studied using a subsurface mooring deployed in the Jailolo Strait from November 2015 to October 2017. The subtidal currents of the mooring measurements are characterized by a two-layer system, with the current variability below about 200 m in opposite phases to that in the upper layer. The mean along-strait velocity (ASV) is toward the Indonesian seas in the whole water column, producing an estimated mean transport of 2.44 ± 0.42 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The errors of the transport calculation based on the single mooring measurements are estimated to be less than 15% using simulations of high-resolution ocean models. A weak current is observed to flow northward during 2017 at the bottom of the strait. The ASV variability is found to be dominated by an annual cycle both in the upper and lower layers. The total transport, however, is dominated by semiannual variability because of the cancelation of the annual transports in the upper and lower layers. The variability of the transport is suggested to be driven by the pressure difference between the Pacific Ocean and the Indonesian seas, as evidenced by the agreement between the satellite pressure gradient and the two-layer transports. The transport of the Jailolo Strait during the 2015/16 super El Niño is found to be nearly the same as that during the 2016 La Niña, suggesting that the interannual variability of the transport is much smaller than the seasonal cycle.

Free access
Xiang Li
,
Dongliang Yuan
,
Yao Li
,
Zheng Wang
,
Jing Wang
,
Xiaoyue Hu
,
Ya Yang
,
Corry Corvianawatie
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Asep Sandra Budiman
,
Ahmad Bayhaqi
,
Praditya Avianto
,
Edi Kusmanto
,
Priyadi Dwi Santoso
,
Adi Purwandana
,
Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail
,
Dirhamsyah
, and
Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The currents and water mass properties at the Pacific entrance of the Indonesian seas are studied using measurements of three subsurface moorings deployed between the Talaud and Halmahera Islands. The moored current meter data show northeastward mean currents toward the Pacific Ocean in the upper 400 m during the nearly 2-yr mooring period, with the maximum velocity in the northern part of the channel. The mean transport between 60- and 300-m depths is estimated to be 10.1–13.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) during 2016–17, when all three moorings have measurements. The variability of the along-channel velocity is dominated by low-frequency signals (periods > 150 days), with northeastward variations in boreal winter and southwestward variations in summer in the superposition of the annual and semiannual harmonics. The current variations evidence the seasonal movement of the Mindanao Current retroflection, which is supported by satellite sea level and ocean color data, showing a cyclonic intrusion into the northern Maluku Sea in boreal winter whereas a leaping path occurs north of the Talaud Islands in summer. During Apri–July, the moored CTDs near 200 m show southwestward currents carrying the salty South Pacific Tropical Water into the Maluku Sea.

Full access
Dongliang Yuan
,
Xiang Li
,
Zheng Wang
,
Yao Li
,
Jing Wang
,
Ya Yang
,
Xiaoyue Hu
,
Shuwen Tan
,
Hui Zhou
,
Adhitya Kusuma Wardana
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Adi Purwandana
,
Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail
,
Praditya Avianto
,
Dirham Dirhamsyah
,
Zainal Arifin
, and
Jin-Song von Storch

Abstract

The Maluku Channel is a major opening of the eastern Indonesian Seas to the western Pacific Ocean, the upper-ocean currents of which have rarely been observed historically. During December 2012–November 2016, long time series of the upper Maluku Channel transport are measured successfully for the first time using subsurface oceanic moorings. The measurements show significant intraseasonal-to-interannual variability of over 14 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the upper 300 m or so, with a mean transport of 1.04–1.31 Sv northward and a significant southward interannual change of over 3.5 Sv in the spring of 2014. Coincident with the interannual transport change is the Mindanao Current, choked at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which is significantly different from its climatological retroflection in fall–winter. A high-resolution numerical simulation suggests that the variations of the Maluku Channel currents are associated with the shifting of the Mindanao Current retroflection. It is suggested that the shifting of the Mindanao Current outside the Sulawesi Sea in the spring of 2014 elevates the sea level at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which drives the anomalous transport through the Maluku Channel. The results suggest the importance of the western boundary current nonlinearity in driving the transport variability of the Indonesian Throughflow.

Full access
Xueli Yin
,
Dongliang Yuan
,
Xiang Li
,
Zheng Wang
,
Yao Li
,
Corry Corvianawatie
,
Adhitya Kusuma Wardana
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Adi Purwandana
,
Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail
,
Asep Sandra Budiman
,
Ahmad Bayhaqi
,
Praditya Avianto
,
Edi Kusmanto
,
Priyadi Dwi Santoso
,
Dirhamsyah
, and
Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The mean circulation and volume budgets in the upper 1200 m of the Maluku Sea are studied using multiyear current meter measurements of four moorings in the Maluku Channel and of one synchronous mooring in the Lifamatola Passage. The measurements show that the mean current in the depth range of 60–450 m is northward toward the Pacific Ocean with a mean transport of 2.07–2.60 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). In the depth range of 450–1200 m, a mean western boundary current (WBC) flows southward through the western Maluku Sea and connects with the southward flow in the Lifamatola Passage. The mean currents in the central-eastern Maluku Channel are found to flow northward at this depth range, suggesting an anticlockwise western intensified gyre circulation in the middle layer of the Maluku Sea. Budget analyses suggest that the mean transport of the intermediate WBC is 1.83–2.25 Sv, which is balanced by three transports: 1) 0.62–0.93 Sv southward transport into the Seram–Banda Seas through the Lifamatola Passage, 2) 0.97–1.01 Sv returning to the western Pacific Ocean through the central-eastern Maluku Channel, and 3) a residual transport surplus, suggested to upwell to the upper layer joining the northward transport into the Pacific Ocean. The dynamics of the intermediate gyre circulation are explained by the potential vorticity (PV) integral constraint of a semienclosed basin.

Significance Statement

The Indonesian Throughflow plays an important role in the global ocean circulation and climate variations. Existing studies of the Indonesian Throughflow have focused on the upper thermocline currents. Here we identify, using mooring observations, an intermediate western boundary current with the core at 800–1000-m depth in the Maluku Sea, transporting intermediate waters from the Pacific into the Seram–Banda Seas through the Lifamatola Passage. Potential vorticity balance suggests an anticlockwise gyre circulation in the intermediate Maluku Sea, which is evidenced by the mooring and model data. Transport estimates suggest northward countercurrent in the upper Maluku Sea toward the Pacific, supplied by the Lifamatola Passage transport and upwelling from the intermediate layer in the Maluku Sea. Our results suggest the importance of the intermediate Indonesian Throughflow in global ocean circulation and overturn. More extensive investigations of the Indo-Pacific intermediate ocean circulation should be conducted to improve our understanding of global ocean overturn and heat and CO2 storages.

Free access