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  • Author or Editor: Tangdong Qu x
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Tangdong Qu

Abstract

Upper-layer circulation is investigated by using all available historical temperature profiles combined with climatological temperature–salinity relationships in the South China Sea. Two cyclonic eddies are revealed: one is located east of Vietnam (called the East Vietnam eddy) and the other is off northwest Luzon (called the West Luzon eddy). Both local Ekman pumping and remotely forced basin-scale circulation are important mechanisms controlling these two eddies. The Luzon Strait transport (relative to 400 db) is estimated to be of the order 3.0 Sv (1 Sv = 1 × 106 m3 s−1) in the mean, and has a seasonal cycle dominated by the annual signal, with a maximum (5.3 Sv) in January–February and a minimum (0.2 Sv) in June–July. Pressure gradients are also examined to explore the dynamics of the intrusion of waters from the Pacific into the South China Sea through the Luzon Strait.

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Linlin Zhang and Tangdong Qu

Abstract

Low-frequency variability of the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre is investigated using satellite altimeter and Argo data. In most of the region studied, both sea surface height and steric height exhibit a linearly increasing trend, with its largest amplitude in the western part of the basin. Analysis of the Argo data reveals that the steric height increase north of 30°S is primarily caused by variations in the upper 500 m, while the steric height increase south of 30°S is determined by variations in the whole depths from the sea surface to 1800 m, with contributions from below 1000 m accounting for about 50% of the total variance. Most of the steric height increase is due to thermal expansion, except below 1000 m where haline contraction is of comparable magnitude with thermal expansion. Correspondingly, the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre has strengthened in the past decade. Within the latitude range between 10° and 35°S, transport of the gyre circulation increased by 20%–30% in the upper 1000 m and by 10%–30% in the deeper layers from 2004 to 2013. Further analysis shows that these variations are closely related to the southern annular mode in the South Pacific.

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Tangdong Qu and Shan Gao

Abstract

Analysis of results from a simulated passive tracer confirms the resurfacing of South Pacific Tropical Water in the equatorial Pacific. Over the period of integration (1993–2011), both the volume and barycenter of the South Pacific Tropical Water that resurfaces in the equatorial Pacific are tightly linked to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), with their correlation with the Niño-3.4 index reaching −0.79 and 0.84, respectively. Their correlation (−0.75 and 0.85) with the sea surface salinity index, Niño-S34.8, is also high. Of particular interest is that both the volume and barycenter of the resurfacing South Pacific Tropical Water peak earlier than the ENSO indices by about 3 months. On the interannual time scale, the resurfacing of South Pacific Tropical Water may modulate the sea surface salinity in the equatorial Pacific at a rate equivalent to as much as 25% of the surface freshwater flux. The results suggest that the resurfacing of South Pacific Tropical Water directly contributes to the sea surface salinity variability in the equatorial Pacific and potentially plays a role in ENSO evolution.

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Tangdong Qu and Gary Meyers

Abstract

The circulation in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean is studied using historical temperature and salinity data. A southward shift of the subtropical gyre at increasing depth dominates the structure of the annual mean circulation. Near the southern Indonesian coast the westward South Equatorial Current (SEC) is at the sea surface and strongest near 10°–11°S, reflecting strong influence of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF). In latitudes 13°–25°S the SEC is a subsurface flow and its velocity core deepens toward the south, falling below 500 m at 25°S. The eastern gyral current (EGC) is a surface flow overlying the SEC, associated with the meridional gradients of near-surface temperature and salinity. The ITF supplies water to the SEC mainly in the upper 400 m, and below that depth the flow is reversed along the coast of Sumatra and Java. Monsoon winds strongly force the annual variation in circulation. Dynamic height at the sea surface has a maximum amplitude at 10°–13°S, and the maximum at deeper levels is located farther south. Annual variation is also strong in the coastal waveguides, but is mainly confined to the near-surface layer. Although the South Java Current at the sea surface is not well resolved in the present dataset, semiannual variation is markedly evident at depth and tends to extend much deeper than the annual variation along the coast of Sumatra and Java.

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Tangdong Qu and Roger Lukas

Abstract

A new climatology using historical temperature and salinity data in the western Pacific is constructed to examine the bifurcation of the North Equatorial Current (NEC). Integrating dynamically calculated circulation from the sea surface to 1000 m and combining it with surface Ekman transport, it is shown that the bifurcation of the NEC occurs at the southernmost position (14.8°N) in July and the northernmost position (about 17.2°N) in December. This annual signal lags behind the seasonal meridional migration of the zero zonally integrated wind stress curl line by 4–5 months but corresponds pretty well with the local Ekman pumping associated with the Asian monsoon winds. The bifurcation latitude of the NEC is depth dependent. On the annual average, it shifts from about 13.3°N near the surface to north of 20°N at depths around 1000 m. There is a time lag of 1–2 months from the sea surface to the subsurface (300–700 m) for the annual cycle. Below 700 m, the bifurcation of the NEC approaches as far north as 22°N during the northeast monsoon (November–January), and as a result an anomalous transport of subtropical water is shown to flow equatorward along the western boundary. The bifurcation of the NEC below 700 m becomes unrecognizable when the prevailing wind is from the southwest (June–August).

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Max Yaremchuk and Tangdong Qu

Abstract

The mean seasonal cycle of the western boundary currents in the tropical North Pacific Ocean is studied diagnostically by combining atmospheric climatologies with drifter, satellite altimetry, and hydrographic data in the framework of a simplified numerical model incorporating geostrophy, hydrostatics, continuity, and tracer conservation. The approach enables the authors to diagnose the absolute 3D velocity field and to assess the seasonal cycle of sea surface height (SSH)/total transports. Errors are estimated by considering multiple datasets and averaging over the results of the corresponding diagnostic computations. Analysis shows that bifurcation of the North Equatorial Current (NEC) occurs at 14.3° ± 0.7°N near the Philippine coast. Meridional migration of the NEC bifurcation latitude is accompanied by quantitative changes in the partitioning of the NEC transport between the Kuroshio and Mindanao Current. In February–July, when the NEC transport is 58 ± 3 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), the Kuroshio transport is 12%–15% higher than the Mindanao Current (MC) transport. In the second half of the annual cycle the situation is reversed: in October the NEC transport drops to 51 ± 2 Sv with the MC transport exceeding the Kuroshio transport by 25%. The net westward transport through the Luzon Strait is characterized by a minimum of 1.2 ± 1.1 Sv in July–September and a maximum of 4.8 ± 0.8 Sv in January– February. A statistically significant correlation is established between the monthly SSH/streamfunction anomalies north of 10°N and the Ekman pumping rate associated with the northeast monsoon developing in the region in October–December. The result provides an indication of the fact that local monsoon is likely to be an important mechanism governing seasonal variation of the NEC partitioning and water mass distribution between the tropical and subtropical North Pacific.

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Tzu-Ling Chiang and Tangdong Qu

Abstract

Sporadic in situ observations have shown evidence that subthermocline eddies exist off the Mindanao coast. These subthermocline eddies are believed to play an important role in the heat, freshwater, and other ocean property transports of the region, but their characteristics and in particular their pathway and source of energy are poorly explored because of the lack of long-term observations. Analysis of results from an eddy-resolving general ocean circulation model has revealed that most subthermocline eddies off the Mindanao coast originate from the equatorial South Pacific Ocean to the west of the Ninigo Group. These eddies propagate northward along the New Guinea coast, cross the equator in the far western Pacific, and reach the Mindanao coast at a typical propagation speed of ~0.12 m s−1. The dominant time scales of these eddies range between 50 and 60 days.

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Tangdong Qu and Eric J. Lindstrom

Abstract

Time-averaged circulation is examined using historical hydrographic data near the Australia and Papua New Guinea coast in the Pacific. By averaging the data along isopycnal surfaces in a 0.5° × 0.5° grid, the authors are able to show many detailed phenomena associated with the narrow western boundary currents, including the vertical structure of the bifurcation latitude of the South Equatorial Current (SEC) and the connection between the Solomon and Coral Seas. The bifurcation latitude of the SEC is found to move southward from about 15°S near the surface to south of 22°S in the intermediate layers. The origin of the Great Barrier Reef Undercurrent (GBRUC) is identified to be at about 22°S. Farther to the north, the GBRUC intensifies underlying the surface East Australian Current, and merges with the North Queensland Current (NQC) at about 15°S. The NQC turns eastward to flow along the Papua New Guinea coast and feeds into the New Guinea Coastal Undercurrent (NGCUC) through the Louisiade Archipelago. Further analysis shows that there is a strong water property connection between the Coral and Solomon Seas, confirming the earlier speculation on the water mass origins of the NGCUC.

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Tangdong Qu and Eric J. Lindstrom

Abstract

The northward intrusion of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) is examined using historical data combined with synoptic observations from a repeated hydrographic section in the western Pacific Ocean. The results of this analysis suggest that AAIW is traced as a salinity minimum to only about 15°N via the New Guinea Coastal Undercurrent and the Mindanao Undercurrent. There is no northward extension of AAIW farther to the north along the western boundary. Although relatively high oxygen water does exist in the Okinawa Trough, it is connected with high-oxygen water in the South China Sea (SCS) through the Luzon Strait but not from the south as an extension of AAIW. Local circulation seems to play an essential role in localizing the oxygen maximum in the SCS. Evidence exists to suggest that high-oxygen water enters the SCS as part of the Pacific deep water around the still depth (∼2000 m) of the Luzon Strait; from there, part of it upwells and is entrained into shallower isopycnal surfaces by vertical mixing and eventually flows back to the Pacific through the Luzon Strait at depths of AAIW.

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Tangdong Qu, Shan Gao, and Rana A. Fine

Abstract

This study investigates the subduction of South Pacific Tropical Water (SPTW) and its equatorward pathways using a simulated passive tracer of the consortium Estimating the Circulation & Climate of the Ocean (ECCO). The results show that approximately 5.8 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of the SPTW is formed in the subtropical South Pacific Ocean within the density range between 24.0 and 25.0 kg m−3, of which about 87% is due to vertical pumping and 13% is due to lateral induction, comparing reasonably well with estimates from climatological data. Once subducted, most SPTW spreads in the subtropical South Pacific. Because of the presence of mixing, some portion of the water is transformed, and its tracer-weighted density steadily increases from an initial value of 24.4 to nearly 25.0 kg m−3 after 13 years of integration. Approximately 42% of the water makes its way into the equatorial Pacific, either through the western boundary or interior pathway. The two equatorward pathways are essentially of equal importance. A large (~70%) portion of the SPTW entering the equatorial region resurfaces in the central equatorial Pacific. The potential impacts of the resurfacing SPTW on the equatorial thermocline and surface stratification are discussed.

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