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Yao Xu
,
Hailun He
,
Jinbao Song
,
Yijun Hou
, and
Funing Li

Abstract

Buoy-based observations of surface waves during three typhoons in the South China Sea were used to obtain the wave characteristics. With the local wind speeds kept below 35 m s−1, the surface waves over an area with a radius 5 times that of the area in which the maximum sustained wind was found were mainly dominated by wind-wave components, and the wave energy distribution was consistent with fetch-limited waves. Swells dominated the surface waves at the front of and outside the central typhoon region. Next, the dynamics of the typhoon waves were studied numerically using a state-of-the-art third-generation wave model. Wind forcing errors made a negligible contribution to the surface wave results obtained using hindcasting. Near-realistic wind fields were constructed by correcting the idealized wind vortex using in situ observational data. If the different sets of source terms were further considered for the forcing stage of the typhoon, which was defined as the half inertial period before and after the typhoon arrival time, the best model performance had mean relative biases and root-mean-square errors of −0.7% and 0.76 m, respectively, for the significant wave height, and −3.4% and 1.115 s, respectively, for the peak wave period. Different sets of source terms for wind inputs and whitecapping breaking dissipation were also used and the results compared. Finally, twin numerical experiments were performed to investigate the importance of nonlinear wave–wave interactions on the spectrum formed. There was evidence that nonlinear wave–wave interactions efficiently transfer wave energy from high frequencies to low frequencies and prevent double-peak structures occurring in the frequency-based spectrum.

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Gengxin Chen
,
Weiqing Han
,
Yuanlong Li
,
Jinglong Yao
, and
Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

By analyzing in situ observations and conducting a series of ocean general circulation model experiments, this study investigates the physical processes controlling intraseasonal variability (ISV) of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) of the Indian Ocean. ISV of the EUC leads to time-varying water exchanges between the western and eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. For the 2001–14 period, standard deviations of the EUC transport variability are 1.92 and 1.77 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the eastern and western basins, respectively. The ISV of the EUC is predominantly caused by the wind forcing effect of atmospheric intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs) but through dramatically different ocean dynamical processes in the eastern and western basins. The stronger ISV in the eastern basin is dominated by the reflected Rossby waves associated with intraseasonal equatorial zonal wind forcing. It takes 20–30 days to set up an intraseasonal EUC anomaly through the Kelvin and Rossby waves associated with the first and second baroclinic modes. In the western basin, the peak intraseasonal EUC anomaly is generated by the zonal pressure gradient force, which is set up by radiating equatorial Kelvin and Rossby waves induced by the equatorial wind stress. Directly forced and reflected Rossby waves from the eastern basin propagate westward, contributing to intraseasonal zonal current near the surface but having weak impact on the peak ISV of the EUC.

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Qiang Wang
,
Lili Zeng
,
Jian Li
,
Ju Chen
,
Yunkai He
,
Jinglong Yao
,
Dongxiao Wang
, and
Weidong Zhou

Abstract

Cross-shelf flow induced by mesoscale eddies has been investigated in the northern South China Sea (NSCS) using velocity observations from Long Ranger ADCP moorings. Mesoscale eddies influenced the three mooring stations during almost all the observation period. Four quadrants have been defined with the mooring location as the origin, and it is found that warm (cold) mesoscale eddies induce onshore (offshore) movement in the eastern two quadrants and offshore (onshore) movement in the western two quadrants. When an eddy propagates past a mooring station, net cross-shelf flow at the mooring station can be induced by asymmetry in the horizontal and vertical structure of the eddy and by its evolution. As an eddy propagates westward, its shape changes continually and the vertical modes also transform from high to lower modes, which contributes to the net cross-shelf flow. Based on the quasigeostrophic potential vorticity equation, it is confirmed that the net cross-shelf flow is mainly induced by the eddy evolution and suppressed by nonlinear effect. Because of dispersion characteristics of the mesoscale eddy, barotropic mode will restructure at the baroclinic mode area after separating from the baroclinic mode, which will be enhanced by topography slope.

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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.

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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
Hui Zhou
,
Hengchang Liu
,
Shuwen Tan
,
Wenlong Yang
,
Yao Li
,
Xueqi Liu
,
Qiang Ren
, and
William K. Dewar

Abstract

The structure and variations of the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC) in the far western Pacific Ocean during 2014–16 are investigated using repeated in situ hydrographic data, altimeter data, Argo data, and reanalysis data. The NECC shifted ~1° southward and intensified significantly with its transport exceeding 40 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), nearly double its climatology value, during the developing phase of the 2015/16 El Niño event. Observations show that the 2015/16 El Niño exerted a comparable impact on the NECC with that of the extreme 1997/98 El Niño in the far western Pacific Ocean. Baroclinic instability provided the primary energy source for the eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the 2015/16 El Niño, which differs from the traditional understanding of the energy source of EKE as barotropic instability in low-latitude ocean. The enhanced vertical shear and the reduced density jump between the NECC layer and the North Equatorial Subsurface Current (NESC) layer renders the NECC–NESC system baroclinically unstable in the western Pacific Ocean during El Niño developing phase. The eddy–mean flow interactions here are diverse associated with various states of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Open access
Qiang Wang
,
Lili Zeng
,
Yeqiang Shu
,
Jian Li
,
Ju Chen
,
Yunkai He
,
Jinglong Yao
,
Dongxiao Wang
, and
Weidong Zhou

Abstract

Topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) are reported to make a significant contribution to the deep-ocean current variability. On the northern South China Sea (NSCS) continental slope, TRWs with peak spectral energy at ~14.5 days are observed over about a year at deep moorings aligned east–west around the Dongsha Islands. The TRWs with a group velocity of O(10) cm s−1 contribute more than 40% of total bottom velocity fluctuations at the two mooring stations. The energy propagation and source are further identified using a ray-tracing model. The TRW energy mainly propagates westward along the NSCS continental slope with a slight downslope component. The possible energy source is upper-ocean 10–20-day fluctuations on the east side of the Dongsha Islands, which are transferred through the first baroclinic mode (i.e., the second EOF mode). These 10–20-day fluctuations in the upper ocean are associated with mesoscale eddies. However, to the west of the Dongsha Islands, the 10–20-day fluctuations in the upper ocean are too weak to effectively generate TRWs locally. This work provides an interesting insight toward understanding the NSCS deep current variability and the linkage between the upper- and deep-ocean currents.

Full 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.

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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.

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