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Weiqing Han, Peter J. Webster, Jia-Lin Lin, W. T. Liu, Rong Fu, Dongliang Yuan, and Aixue Hu

Abstract

Satellite and in situ observations in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean during 2002–03 show dominant spectral peaks at 40–60 days and secondary peaks at 10–40 days in sea level and thermocline within the intraseasonal period band (10–80 days). A detailed investigation of the dynamics of the intraseasonal variations is carried out using an ocean general circulation model, namely, the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). Two parallel experiments are performed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean basin for the period 2000–03: one is forced by daily scatterometer winds from the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite together with other forcing fields, and the other is forced by the low-passed 80-day version of the above fields. To help in understanding the role played by the wind-driven equatorial waves, a linear continuously stratified ocean model is also used.

Within 3°S–3°N of the equatorial region, the strong 40–60-day sea surface height anomaly (SSHA) and thermocline variability result mainly from the first and second baroclinic modes equatorial Kelvin waves that are forced by intraseasonal zonal winds, with the second baroclinic mode playing a more important role. Sharp 40–50-day peaks of zonal and meridional winds appear in both the QuikSCAT and Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) data for the period 2002–03, and they are especially strong in 2002. Zonal wind anomaly in the central-western equatorial basin for the period 2000–06 is significantly correlated with SSHA across the equatorial basin, with simultaneous/lag correlation ranging from −0.62 to 0.74 above 95% significance. Away from the equator (3°–5°N), however, sea level and thermocline variations in the 40–60-day band are caused largely by tropical instability waves (TIWs).

On 10–40-day time scales and west of 10°W, the spectral power of sea level and thermocline appears to be dominated by TIWs within 5°S–5°N of the equatorial region. The wind-driven circulation, however, also provides a significant contribution. Interestingly, east of 10°W, SSHA and thermocline variations at 10–40-day periods result almost entirely from wind-driven equatorial waves. During the boreal spring of 2002 when TIWs are weak, Kelvin waves dominate the SSHA across the equatorial basin (2°S–2°N). The observed quasi-biweekly Yanai waves are excited mainly by the quasi-biweekly meridional winds, and they contribute significantly to the SSHA and thermocline variations in 1°–5°N and 1°–5°S regions.

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Maochong Shi, Changsheng Chen, Qichun Xu, Huichan Lin, Guimei Liu, Hui Wang, Fang Wang, and Jinhui Yan

Abstract

An analysis of the water level and current data taken in Qiongzhou Strait in the South China Sea (SCS) over the last 37 years (1963 to 1999) was made to examine the characteristics of tidal waves and residual flow through the strait and their roles in the seasonal variation of the SCS circulation. The observations reveal that Qiongzhou Strait is an area where opposing tidal waves interact and a source of water transport to the Gulf of Beibu (Gulf of Tonkin), SCS. A year-round westward mean flow with a maximum speed of 10–40 cm s−1 is found in Qiongzhou Strait. This accounts for water transport of 0.2–0.4 Sv and 0.1–0.2 Sv into the Gulf of Beibu in winter–spring and summer–autumn, respectively. The outflow from Qiongzhou Strait may cause up to 44% of the gulf water to be refreshed each season, suggesting that it has a significant impact on the seasonal circulation in the Gulf of Beibu. This finding is in contrast to our current understanding that the seasonal circulation patterns in the South China Sea are primarily driven by seasonal winds. Several numerical experiments were conducted to examine the physical mechanisms responsible for the formation of the westward mean flow in Qiongzhou Strait. The model provides a reasonable simulation of semidiurnal and diurnal tidal waves in the strait and the predicted residual flow generally agrees with the observed mean flow. An analysis of the momentum equations indicates that the strong westward flow is driven mainly by tidal rectification over variable bottom topography. Both observations and modeling suggest that the coastal physical processes associated with tidal rectification and buoyancy input must be taken into account when the mass balance of the SCS circulation is investigated, especially for the regional circulation in the Gulf of Beibu.

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Y.-C. Lin, L.-Y. Oey, J. Wang, and K.-K. Liu

Abstract

Annual Rossby waves in northern South China Sea had previously been studied using altimetry and model data; however, how they connect to subsurface temperature fluctuations has not been examined. This study analyzed a 22-month, surface to −500-m temperature time series at 18.3°N, 115.5°E, together with satellite and other data, to show the arrivals near z ≈ −300 m and deeper cool (warm) Rossby waves after their generation near the Luzon Strait in winter (summer). Temperature fluctuations with time scales of a few weeks, and with maximum anomalies near z ≈ −100 m, were also found embedded in the smooth Rossby waves and caused by propagating eddies. Eddy fluctuations and propagation past the mooring were of two types: southwestward from southwestern Taiwan, triggered by Kuroshio intrusion that produced anticyclone–cyclone pairs in late fall and winter, and eddies propagating westward from Luzon forced by annual anomalies of wind stress curl and Kuroshio path in the Luzon Strait

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