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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, Linlin Zhang, and Niklas Schneider

Abstract

Subtropical underwater (STUW) and its year-to-year variability in annual subduction rate are investigated using recently available Argo data in the North Atlantic. For the period of observation (2002–14), the mean annual subduction rate of the STUW is 7.3 ± 1.2 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s−1) within the density range between 25.0 and 26.0 kg m−3. Once subducted, the STUW spreads in the subtropical gyre as a vertical salinity maximum. In the mean, the spatial changes in temperature and salinity of the STUW tend to compensate each other, and the density of the water mass remains rather stable near 25.5 kg m−3 in the southwestern part of the subtropical gyre. The annual subduction rate of the STUW varies from year to year, and most of this variability is due to lateral induction, which in turn is directly linked to the variability of the winter mixed layer depth. Through modulation of surface buoyancy, wind anomalies associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation are primarily responsible for this variability. Sea surface salinity anomalies in the formation region of the STUW are conveyed into the thermocline, but their westward propagation cannot be detected by the present data.

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Linlin Zheng, Jianhua Sun, Xiaoling Zhang, and Changhai Liu

Abstract

Composite reflectivity Doppler radar data from June to September of 2007–2010 were used to classify mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over central east China into seven morphologies. The morphologies included one nonlinear mode (NL) and six linear modes: convective lines with no stratiform precipitation (NS), trailing stratiform precipitation (TS), leading stratiform precipitation (LS), parallel stratiform precipitation (PS), bow echoes (BE), and embedded lines (EL). Nonlinear and linear systems composed 44.7% and 55.3% of total MCSs, respectively, but there was no primary linear mode. All MCS morphologies attained their peak occurrence in July, except BE systems, which peaked in June. On average, TS and PS modes had relatively longer lifespans than did other modes.

Significant differences in MCS-produced severe weather existed between dry and moist environments. High winds and hail events were mainly observed in dry environments, and in contrast, short-term intense precipitation occurred more frequently in moist environments. BE systems generated the most severe weather on average, while most TS systems were attendant with short-term intense precipitation and high winds. EL and PS systems were most frequently associated with extreme short-time intense precipitation (≥50 mm h−1) as these systems preferentially developed in moist environments. BE systems generally occurred under strong low-level shear and intermediately moist conditions. LS systems were observed in weak low-level shear, whereas EL systems often developed in relatively stable conditions and weak low- to middle-level shear. The largest instability was present in the environment for NS systems. The environmental parameters for TS systems featured the largest differences between the dry and moist cases.

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Linlin Zhang, Yuchao Hui, Tangdong Qu, and Dunxin Hu

Abstract

Seasonal modulation of subthermocline eddy kinetic energy (EKE) east of the Philippines and its associated dynamics are studied, using mooring measurements and outputs from an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model for the period from 2000 to 2017. Significantly high EKE appears below the thermocline in the latitude band between 5° and 14°N east of the Philippines. Separated by 10°N, the EKE in the northern and southern parts of the region shows nearly opposite seasonal cycles, with its magnitude reaching a maximum in early spring and minimum in summer in the northern part and reaching a maximum in summer and minimum in winter in the southern part of the region. Further investigation indicates that both baroclinic and barotropic instabilities are essential in generating the subthermocline eddies, but the seasonal variation of subthermocline EKE is mainly caused by the seasonal modulation of barotropic instability. The seasonal modulation of barotropic instability in the northern and southern part of the region is associated with the seasonal evolution of North Equatorial Undercurrent and Halmahera Eddy, respectively.

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Shijian Hu, Dunxin Hu, Cong Guan, Fan Wang, Linlin Zhang, Fujun Wang, and Qingye Wang

Abstract

The interannual variability of the boundary currents east of the Mindanao Island, including the Mindanao Current/Undercurrent (MC/MUC), is investigated using moored acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) measurements combined with a series of numerical experiments. The ADCP mooring system was deployed east of the Mindanao Island at 7°59′N, 127°3′E during December 2010–August 2014. Depth-dependent interannual variability is detected in the two western boundary currents: strong and lower-frequency variability dominates the upper-layer MC, while weaker and higher-frequency fluctuation controls the subsurface MUC. Throughout the duration of mooring measurements, the weakest MC was observed in June 2012, in contrast to the maximum peaks in December 2010 and June 2014, while in the deeper layer the MUC shows speed peaks circa December 2010, January 2011, April 2013, and July 2014 and valleys circa June 2011, August 2012, and November 2013. Diagnostic analysis and numerical sensitivity experiments using a 2.5-layer reduced-gravity model indicate that wind forcing in the western Pacific Ocean is a driving agent in conditioning the interannual variability of MC and MUC. Results suggest that westward-propagating Rossby waves that generate in the western Pacific Ocean (roughly 150°–180°E) are of much significance in the interannual variability of the two boundary currents. Fluctuation of Ekman pumping due to local wind stress curl anomaly in the far western Pacific Ocean (roughly 120°–150°E) also plays a role in the interannual variability of the MC. The relationship between the MC/MUC and El Niño is discussed.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Xiaolin Zhang, Linlin Liang, Huijie Xue, Ke Huang, Yunkai He, Jian Li, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

Using 4-yr mooring observations and ocean circulation model experiments, this study characterizes the spatial and temporal variability of the Equatorial Intermediate Current (EIC; 200–1200 m) in the Indian Ocean and investigates the causes. The EIC is dominated by seasonal and intraseasonal variability, with interannual variability being weak. The seasonal component dominates the midbasin with a predominant semiannual period of ~166 days but weakens toward east and west where the EIC generally exhibits large intraseasonal variations. The resonant second and fourth baroclinic modes at the semiannual period make the largest contribution to the EIC, determining the overall EIC structures. The higher baroclinic modes, however, modify the EIC’s vertical structures, forming multiple cores during some time periods. The EIC intensity has an abrupt change near 73°E, which is strong to the east and weak to the west. Model simulation suggests that the abrupt change is caused primarily by the Maldives, which block the propagation of equatorial waves. The Maldives impede the equatorial Rossby waves, reducing the EIC’s standard deviation associated with reflected Rossby waves by ~48% and directly forced waves by 20%. Mode decomposition further demonstrates that the semiannual resonance amplitude of the second baroclinic mode reduces by 39% because of the Maldives. However, resonance amplitude of the four baroclinic mode is less affected, because the Maldives fall in the node region of mode 4’s resonance. The research reveals the spatiotemporal variability of the poorly understood EIC, contributing to our understanding of equatorial wave–current dynamics.

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Yilong Lyu, Yuanlong Li, Jianing Wang, Jing Duan, Xiaohui Tang, Chuanyu Liu, Linlin Zhang, Qiang Ma, and Fan Wang

Abstract

Mooring measurements at ~140°E in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean documented greatly intensified eastward subsurface currents, which largely represent the nascent Equatorial Undercurrent, to ~67 cm s−1 in boreal summer of 2016. The eastward currents occupied the entire upper 500 m while the westward surface currents nearly disappeared. Historical in situ data observed similar variations after most El Niño events. Further analysis combining satellite and reanalysis data reveals that the eastward currents observed at ~140°E are a component of an anomalous counterclockwise circulation straddling the equator, with westward current anomalies retroflecting near the western boundary and feeding southeastward current anomalies along the New Guinea coast. A 1.5-layer reduced-gravity ocean model is able to crudely reproduce these variations, and a hierarchy of sensitivity experiments is performed to understand the underlying dynamics. The anomalous circulation is largely the delayed ocean response to equatorial wind anomalies over the central-to-eastern Pacific basin emerging in the mature stage of El Niño. Downwelling Rossby waves are generated by the reflection of equatorial Kelvin waves and easterly winds in the eastern Pacific. Upon reaching the western Pacific, the southern lobes of Rossby waves encounter the slanted New Guinea island and deflect to the equator, establishing a local sea surface height maximum and leading to the detour of westward currents flowing from the Pacific interior. Additional experiments with edited western boundary geometry confirm the importance of topography in regulating the structure of this cross-equatorial anomalous circulation.

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Dunxin Hu, Shijian Hu, Lixin Wu, Lei Li, Linlin Zhang, Xinyuan Diao, Zhaohui Chen, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

The Luzon Undercurrent (LUC) was discovered about 20 years ago by geostrophic calculation from conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) data. But it was not directly measured until 2010. From November 2010 to July 2011, the LUC was first directly measured by acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) from a subsurface mooring at 18.0°N, 122.7°E to the east of Luzon Island. A number of new features of the LUC were identified from the measurements of the current. Its depth covers a range from 400 m to deeper than 700 m. The observed maximum velocity of the LUC, centered at about 650 m, could exceed 27.5 cm s−1, four times stronger than the one derived from previous geostrophic calculation with hydrographic data. According to the time series available, the seasonality of the LUC strength is in winter > summer > spring. Significant intraseasonal variability (ISV; 70–80 days) of the LUC is exposed. Evidence exists to suggest that a large portion of the intraseasonal variability in the LUC is related to the westward propagation of mesoscale eddies from the east of the mooring site.

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