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Xiang Li, Dongliang Yuan, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep Sandra, Ahmad Bayhaqi, Praditya Avianto, Edi Kusmanto, Dirham Dirhamsyah, and Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The ocean currents in the Halmahera Sea are studied using a subsurface mooring deployed in the Jailolo Strait from November 2015 to October 2017. The subtidal currents of the mooring measurements are characterized by a two-layer system, with the current variability below about 200 m in opposite phases to that in the upper layer. The mean along-strait velocity (ASV) is toward the Indonesian seas in the whole water column, producing an estimated mean transport of 2.44 ± 0.42 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The errors of the transport calculation based on the single mooring measurements are estimated to be less than 15% using simulations of high-resolution ocean models. A weak current is observed to flow northward during 2017 at the bottom of the strait. The ASV variability is found to be dominated by an annual cycle both in the upper and lower layers. The total transport, however, is dominated by semiannual variability because of the cancelation of the annual transports in the upper and lower layers. The variability of the transport is suggested to be driven by the pressure difference between the Pacific Ocean and the Indonesian seas, as evidenced by the agreement between the satellite pressure gradient and the two-layer transports. The transport of the Jailolo Strait during the 2015/16 super El Niño is found to be nearly the same as that during the 2016 La Niña, suggesting that the interannual variability of the transport is much smaller than the seasonal cycle.

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Dongliang Yuan, Xiang Li, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Jing Wang, Ya Yang, Xiaoyue Hu, Shuwen Tan, Hui Zhou, Adhitya Kusuma Wardana, Dewi Surinati, Adi Purwandana, Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail, Praditya Avianto, Dirham Dirhamsyah, Zainal Arifin, and Jin-Song von Storch

Abstract

The Maluku Channel is a major opening of the eastern Indonesian Seas to the western Pacific Ocean, the upper-ocean currents of which have rarely been observed historically. During December 2012–November 2016, long time series of the upper Maluku Channel transport are measured successfully for the first time using subsurface oceanic moorings. The measurements show significant intraseasonal-to-interannual variability of over 14 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the upper 300 m or so, with a mean transport of 1.04–1.31 Sv northward and a significant southward interannual change of over 3.5 Sv in the spring of 2014. Coincident with the interannual transport change is the Mindanao Current, choked at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which is significantly different from its climatological retroflection in fall–winter. A high-resolution numerical simulation suggests that the variations of the Maluku Channel currents are associated with the shifting of the Mindanao Current retroflection. It is suggested that the shifting of the Mindanao Current outside the Sulawesi Sea in the spring of 2014 elevates the sea level at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which drives the anomalous transport through the Maluku Channel. The results suggest the importance of the western boundary current nonlinearity in driving the transport variability of the Indonesian Throughflow.

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