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Ruixiang Zhao
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
, and
Jae-Hun Park

Abstract

Oceanic, nonisostatic responses to near 5-day Rossby–Haurwitz atmospheric pressure waves have been observed in open oceans; however, such responses based on observations in marginal seas such as the South China Sea have not been reported, owing to the limited ocean bottom pressure P bot records. The P bot measurements from pressure recording inverted echo sounders (PIESs) at sites in the northern South China Sea revealed a nonisostatic-like response near 5 days, although the coastal-trapped waves (CTWs) appeared to obscure it because their broadband periods include the near 5-day band. Cross-spectral analysis revealed that the PIES P bot records and the sea level (SL) records of Hong Kong all correlate strongly with the atmospheric pressure and winds over the East China Sea. This is indicative of remotely forced CTWs. The PIES P bot records showed higher coherence near 5 days with the zonal low-pass wavelength filters applied to the atmospheric pressure, and the phase analysis results strongly suggest nonisostatic oceanic responses to the westward-propagating Rossby–Haurwitz waves. Effective separation of CTWs and the nonisostatic responses from the P bot records at the near 5-day period was achieved. The oceanic responses to the Rossby–Haurwitz waves in the northern South China Sea were nonisostatic; a 1-mbar change in air pressure resulted in a 1.58-mbar change in P bot with a phase lag of 14.8°. The mean phase speed of CTWs from Hong Kong to station P3 was estimated to be 9.9 m s−1.

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Hua Zheng
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
,
Chuanzheng Zhang
,
Ruixiang Zhao
,
Ze-Nan Zhu
, and
Zhao-Jun Liu

Abstract

Topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) are oscillations generated on sloping topography when water columns travel across isobaths under potential vorticity conservation. From our large-scale observations from 2016 to 2019, near-65-day TRWs were first observed in the deep basin of the South China Sea (SCS). The TRWs propagated westward with a larger wavelength (235 km) and phase speed (3.6 km day−1) in the north of the array and a smaller wavelength (80 km) and phase speed (1.2 km day−1) toward the southwest of the array. The ray-tracing model was used to identify the energy source and propagation features of the TRWs. The paths of the near-65-day TRWs mainly followed the isobaths with a slightly downslope propagation. The possible energy source of the TRWs was the variance of surface eddies southwest of Taiwan. The near-65-day energy propagated from the southwest of Taiwan to the northeast and southwest of the array over ~100–120 and ~105 days, respectively, corresponding to a group velocity of 4.2–5.0 and 10.5 km day−1, respectively. This suggests that TRWs play an important role in deep-ocean dynamics and deep current variation, and upper-ocean variance may adjust the intraseasonal variability in the deep SCS.

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Ruixiang Zhao
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
,
Chuanzheng Zhang
,
Hua Zheng
,
Ze-Nan Zhu
,
Qiang Ren
,
Yansong Liu
,
Feng Nan
, and
Fei Yu

Abstract

The Kuroshio intrusion into the South China Sea (SCS) in summer is weak and has rarely been reported by in situ observations. Here, we describe a new form of Kuroshio water intrusion that is strongest during the summer, the North Luzon Warm Eddy (NLWE), which is an anticyclonic eddy originating north of Luzon Island. From early July to mid-September 2018, two NLWEs moving northwestward were captured by a mooring array consisting of 27 current- and pressure-recording inverted echo sounders (CPIESs). The three-dimensional CPIES estimates reveal that the NLWEs carried large amounts of saline Kuroshio waters (S > 34.7 psu) in the subsurface, which was also evidenced by Argo float profiles. The Kuroshio intrusion was confined to waters shallower than the 14.8°C isotherm. Historical data for NLWEs suggest that they occur mostly during the summer but are absent between November and March, which is attributed to seasonal wind stress curl (WSC). However, because the seasonal signal of WSC during summer is small, intraseasonal WSC is directly responsible for the generation of NLWEs.

Significance Statement

This paper describes a new type of Kuroshio water intrusion into the South China Sea (SCS)—the North Luzon Warm Eddy (NLWE), which is an anticyclonic eddy generated north of Luzon Island. The eddy mostly occurs during summer when the Kuroshio intrusion is commonly considered the weakest. From observations of a large CPIES array, we provide a cradle-to-grave picture of the NLWE. NLWEs are estimated to contribute almost half of the westward Luzon Strait transport during the summer and, as such, play an important role in the seasonal stratification and circulation in the northeastern SCS.

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Hua Zheng
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
,
Juntian Chen
,
Min Wang
,
Ruixiang Zhao
,
Chuanzheng Zhang
,
Ze-Nan Zhu
,
Qiang Ren
,
Yansong Liu
,
Feng Nan
, and
Fei Yu

Abstract

Topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) play an important role in deep-ocean dynamics and abyssal intraseasonal variations. Observational records from 15 current- and pressure-recording inverted echo sounders (CPIESs) and two moorings deployed in the northern Manila Trench (MT), South China Sea (SCS), for over 400 days were utilized to analyze the widely existing near-21-day bottom-trapped TRWs in the trench. The TRWs were generally generated in winter and summer, dominated by perturbations in the upper ocean. Kuroshio intrusion and its related variabilities contributed to the perturbations in winter, whereas the perturbations generated north of Luzon Island dominated in summer. Eddies north of Luzon propagated northwestward in the summer of 2018; however, these eddies caused the Kuroshio meanderings in the Luzon Strait (LS) in the summer of 2019. The variations in the Kuroshio path and the Kuroshio-related eddies induced TRWs in the deep ocean in regions with steep topography. However, the spatiotemporal distributions of TRWs were complex owing to the propagation of the waves. Some cases of TRWs showed no relation to the local upper-layer perturbations but propagated from adjacent regions. Some of these TRWs were induced by perturbations in the upper ocean in adjacent regions, and propagated anticlockwise in the MT with shallow water to their right, while others may be related to the intraseasonal variations in deep-water overflow in the LS and propagated northward. This study suggests that the Kuroshio and Kuroshio-related eddies significantly contribute to the dynamic processes associated with intraseasonal variations in the deep SCS through the generation of TRWs.

Significance Statement

Topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) are fluctuations generated when water columns travel across sloping topography under potential vorticity conservation. Based on observations of 15 current- and pressure-recording inverted echo sounders (CPIESs) and two moorings in the northern Manila Trench (MT) in the South China Sea (SCS), TRWs with periods of approximately 21 days were observed and analyzed. This study describes the generation, propagation, and spatiotemporal distribution of TRWs west of the LS and confirms that regional Kuroshio meanderings and upper eddies play important roles in the dynamic processes associated with intraseasonal variations in the deep SCS; the study may thus contribute to knowledge on the dynamic response of the abyssal current to mesoscale perturbations in the upper ocean.

Free access
Hua Zheng
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
,
Chuanzheng Zhang
,
Ruixiang Zhao
,
Ze-Nan Zhu
,
Qiang Ren
,
Yansong Liu
,
Feng Nan
, and
Fei Yu

Abstract

South China Sea (SCS) abyssal circulation largely contributes to water renewal, energy budget, and sedimentary processes in the deep ocean. The three-dimensional abyssal circulation west of the Luzon Strait (LS) in the northern SCS was investigated using an array comprising 27 current- and pressure-recording inverted echo sounders. Over 400 days of measurements from June 2018 to July 2019 showed a narrow and strong (∼70 km, ∼2.3 cm s−1 at 2500 dbar) northward current near the steep eastern boundary, while a wide and weak (∼180 km, ∼1.5 cm s−1 at 2500 dbar) southwestward current lies along the subdued western boundary. The circulation showed conspicuous cyclonic patterns with a volume transport of ∼1.21 ± 0.93 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) and ∼1.59 ± 0.95 Sv below 2500 dbar along the eastern and western boundaries, respectively. The current near the LS was strong in late autumn and early winter but weak in late winter and spring, following the seasonal variation of LS deep-water overflow. However, the southwestward current in the interior SCS was stronger in summer and early autumn but weaker in late winter and early spring. The different seasonal patterns identified near the LS and the interior SCS are attributed to the propagation of seasonal variation. The weak current along the western boundary in August 2018 and February 2019 was dominated by LS deep-water overflow with a time lag of ∼7.5 months. Although eddies in the upper ocean may also contribute to such variation through pressure work, the effect is minor.

Significance Statement

Cyclonic circulation in the deep South China Sea (SCS) largely contributes to water renewal, energy budget, and sedimentary processes and influences the transport of dissolved elements, minerals, and pollutants. As an important part of the SCS throughflow, an in-depth analysis of the SCS abyssal circulation may also contribute to understanding Indonesian Throughflow and global climate change. The three-dimensional abyssal circulation west of the Luzon Strait was investigated using large-scale data from June 2018 to July 2019, which provided unprecedented coverage of abyssal circulation in the northeast SCS. The study provides important observational evidence for the existence of SCS abyssal cyclonic circulation. Detailed spatiotemporal structure of abyssal circulation and its variations are presented, and related dynamic processes are discussed.

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