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Regina R. Rodrigues, Lewis M. Rothstein, and Mark Wimbush

Abstract

In this study, a reduced-gravity, primitive equation OGCM is used to investigate the seasonal variability of the bifurcation of the South Equatorial Current (SEC) into the Brazil Current (BC) to the south and the North Brazil Undercurrent/Current (NBUC/NBC) system to the north. Annual mean meridional velocity averaged within a 2° longitude band off the South American coast shows that the SEC bifurcation occurs at about 10°–14°S near the surface, shifting poleward with increasing depth, reaching 27°S at 1000 m, in both observations and model. The bifurcation latitude reaches its southernmost position in July (∼17°S in the top 200 m) and its northernmost position in November (∼13°S in the top 200 m). The model results show that most of the seasonal variability of the bifurcation latitude in the upper thermocline is associated with changes in the local wind stress curl due to the annual north–south excursion of the marine ITCZ complex. As the SEC bifurcation latitude moves south (north) the NBUC transport increases (decreases) and the BC transport decreases (increases). The remote forcing (i.e., westward propagation of anomalies) appears to have a smaller impact on the seasonal variability of the bifurcation in the upper thermocline.

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D. A. Mitchell, M. Wimbush, D. R. Watts, and W. J. Teague

Abstract

The standard gravest empirical mode (GEM) technique for utilizing hydrography in concert with integral ocean measurements performs poorly in the southwestern Japan/East Sea (JES) because of a spatially variable seasonal signal and a shallow thermocline. This paper presents a new method that combines the U.S. Navy's Modular Ocean Data Assimilation System (MODAS) static climatology (which implicitly contains the mean seasonal signal) with historical hydrography to construct a “residual GEM” from which profiles of such parameters as temperature (T) and specific volume anomaly (δ) can be estimated from measurements of an integral quantity such as geopotential height or acoustic echo time (τ). This is called the residual GEM technique. In a further refinement, sea surface temperature (SST) measurements are included in the profile determinations. In the southwestern JES, profiles determined by the standard GEM technique capture 70% of the T variance and 64% of the δ variance, while the residual GEM technique using SST captures 89% of the T variance and 84% of the δ variance. The residual GEM technique was applied to optimally interpolated τ measurements from a two-dimensional array of pressure-gauge-equipped inverted echo sounders moored from June 1999 to July 2001 in the southwestern JES, resulting in daily 3D estimated fields of T and δ throughout the region. These estimates are compared with those from direct measurements and good agreement is found between them.

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D. A. Mitchell, W. J. Teague, M. Wimbush, D. R. Watts, and G. G. Sutyrin

Abstract

Current and temperature patterns in the Ulleung Basin of the Japan/East Sea are examined using acoustic travel-time measurements from an array of pressure-gauge-equipped inverted echo sounders moored between June 1999 and July 2001. The focus here is the formation and behavior of a persistent cold eddy observed south of Dok Island, referred to as the Dok Cold Eddy (DCE), and meandering of the Subpolar Front. The DCE is typically about 60 km in diameter and originates from the pinching off of a Subpolar Front meander between Ulleung and Dok Islands. After formation, the DCE dwells southwest of Dok Island for 1–6 months before propagating westward toward Korea, where it deflects the path of the East Korean Warm Current (EKWC). Four such DCE propagation events between January and June 2000 each deflected the EKWC, and after the fourth deflection the EKWC changed paths and flowed westward along the Japanese shelf as the “Offshore Branch” from June through November 2000. Beginning in March 2001, a deep, persistent meander of the Subpolar Front developed and oscillated with a period near 60 days, resulting in the deformation and northwestward displacement of the Ulleung Eddy. Satellite-altimeter data suggest that the Ulleung Eddy may have entered the northern Japan/East Sea. The evolution of this meander is compared with thin-jet nonlinear dynamics described by the modified Korteweg–deVries equation.

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