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Charina Lyn Amedo-Repollo, Xavier Flores-Vidal, Cedric Chavanne, Cesar L. Villanoy, and Pierre Flament

Abstract

High-frequency Doppler radar (HFDR) and acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) time-series observations during the Philippine Straits Dynamics Experiment (PhilEx) were analyzed to describe the mesoscale currents in Panay Strait, Philippines. Low-frequency surface currents inferred from three HFDR (July 2008–July 2009), reveal a clear seasonal signal concurrent with the reversal of the Asian monsoon. A mesoscale cyclonic eddy west of Panay Island is generated during the winter northeast (NE) monsoon. This causes changes in the strength, depth, and width of the intraseasonal Panay coastal (PC) jet as its eastern limb. Winds from QuikSCAT and from a nearby airport indicate that these flow structures correlate with the strength and direction of the prevailing local wind. An intensive survey in 8–9 February 2009 using 24 h of successive cross-shore conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) sections, which in conjunction with shipboard ADCP measurements, show a well-developed cyclonic eddy characterized by near-surface velocities of 50 cm s−1. This eddy coincides with the intensification of the wind in between Mindoro and Panay Islands, generating a positive wind stress curl in the lee of Panay, which in turn induces divergent surface currents. Water column response from the mean transects show a pronounced signal of upwelling, indicated by the doming of isotherms and isopycnals. A pressure gradient then is set up, resulting in the spin up of a cyclonic eddy in geostrophic balance. Evolution of the vorticity within the vortex core confirms wind stress curl as the dominant forcing.

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