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Xiaohui Liu, Dong-Ping Wang, Jilan Su, Dake Chen, Tao Lian, Changming Dong, and Tongya Liu

Abstract

The circulation of the Kuroshio northeast of Taiwan is characterized by a large anticyclonic loop of surface intrusion and strong upwelling at the shelfbreak. To study the mechanisms of Kuroshio intrusions, the vorticity balance is examined using a high-resolution nested numerical model. In the 2D depth-averaged vorticity equation, the advection of geostrophic potential vorticity (APV) term and the joint effect of baroclinicity and relief (JEBAR) term are dominant. On the other hand, in the 2D depth-integrated vorticity equation, the main balance is between nonlinear advection and bottom pressure torque. It is shown that JEBAR and APV tend to compensate, and their difference is comparable to bottom pressure torque. Perhaps most significantly, a general framework is provided for examination of vorticity balance over steep slopes through a full 3D depth-dependent vorticity equation. The 3D analysis reveals a well-defined bottom boundary layer over the shelfbreak, about 40 m deep and capped by the vertical velocity maximum. In the upper frictionless layer from the surface to about 100 m, the primary balance is between nonlinear advection and horizontal divergence. In the lower frictional layer, viscous stress is balanced by nonlinear advection and horizontal divergence. The bottom pressure torque, which corresponds to the depth-integrated viscous effect, is a proxy for viscous stress divergence at the bottom. The importance of nonlinear advection is further demonstrated in a sensitivity experiment by removing advective terms from momentum equations. Without nonlinear advection, the bottom pressure torque becomes trivial, the boundary layer vanishes, and the on-shelf intrusion is considerably weakened.

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