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Wei Yang, Hao Wei, and Liang Zhao

Abstract

On the basis of measurements from an observing mooring system, the observational evidence of parametric subharmonic instability (PSI) that transfers energy from semidiurnal internal tides (ITs) to the subharmonic waves at the East China Sea continental shelf slope is presented for the first time. Although the mooring station is very close to the energetic semidiurnal IT generation site, about 76% of the observed shear variance is contained in the near-inertial band, which is found to have comparable upward- and downward-propagating energy components. Bispectra and bicoherence estimates further confirm the occurrence of PSI transferring energy from the low-mode M2 ITs (vertical wavelength of ~1000 m) to high-mode subharmonic waves (vertical wavelength of ~200 m). The calculated energy transfer rate g reveals an averaged net value of ~5 × 10−9 W kg−1. Strong temporal variation of g is found that is not exactly in phase with the semidiurnal energy flux. After looking into the local vorticity fields, it is strongly suggested that the varying background relative vorticity associated with the evolving Kuroshio has modified the efficiency of PSI at the mooring location through changing the local effective inertial frequency.

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Wei Mei, Shang-Ping Xie, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Interannual–decadal variability of tropical cyclone (TC) track density over the North Atlantic (NA) between 1979 and 2008 is studied using observations and simulations with a 25-km-resolution version of the High Resolution Atmospheric Model (HiRAM) forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The variability on decadal and interannual time scales is examined separately. On both time scales, a basinwide mode dominates, with the time series being related to variations in seasonal TC counts. On decadal time scales, this mode relates to SST contrasts between the tropical NA and the tropical northeast Pacific as well as the tropical South Atlantic, whereas on interannual time scales it is controlled by SSTs over the central–eastern equatorial Pacific and those over the tropical NA. The temporal evolution of the spatial distribution of track density is further investigated by normalizing the track density with seasonal TC counts. On decadal time scales, two modes emerge: one is an oscillation between track density over the U.S. East Coast and midlatitude ocean and that over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and the other oscillates between low and middle latitudes. They might be driven by the preceding winter North Atlantic Oscillation and concurrent Atlantic meridional mode, respectively. On interannual time scales, two similar modes are present in observations but are not well separated in HiRAM simulations. Finally, the internal variability and predictability of TC track density are explored and discussed using HiRAM ensemble simulations. The results suggest that basinwide total TC counts/days are much more predictable than local TC occurrence, posing a serious challenge to the prediction and projection of regional TC threats, especially the U.S. landfall hurricanes.

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Jiwei Tian, Qingxuan Yang, and Wei Zhao

Abstract

Profiles of current velocity, temperature, and salinity were obtained in the Internal Wave and Mixing Experiment in the South China Sea (SCS), the Luzon Strait, and the North Pacific. The observations are examined for evidence of enhanced diapycnal mixing in the SCS, which reaches O(10−3 m2 s−1) in magnitude. Results from independent casts reveal that diapycnal diffusivity in the SCS and the Luzon Strait is elevated by two orders of magnitude over that of the smooth bathymetry in the North Pacific, which are typical of background values in an open ocean. The vertical distribution of diapycnal diffusivity is nonuniform in the SCS, exhibiting higher values at depths greater than about 1000 m. This result compares favorably with the direct microstructure measurements at four stations in the SCS. Velocity and density profiles are combined to estimate the internal tide energy flux generated in the Luzon Strait and directed into the SCS. The energy amounts to 10 GW, most of which is rationalized to be the potential energy source for enhanced mixing in the SCS.

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Zhiwei Zhang, Wei Zhao, Bo Qiu, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

Sheddings of Kuroshio Loop Current (KLC) eddies in the northeastern South China Sea (SCS) are investigated using mooring arrays, multiple satellite data, and data-assimilative HYCOM products. Based on altimeter sea surface heights between 1992 and 2014, a total of 19 prominent KLC eddy shedding (KLCES) events were identified, among which four events were confirmed by the concurrent moored and satellite observations. Compared to the leaping behavior of Kuroshio, KLCES is a relatively short-duration phenomenon that primarily occurs in boreal autumn and winter. The KLC and its shedding anticyclonic eddy (AE) trap a large amount of Pacific water with high temperature–salinity and low chlorophyll concentration in the upper layer. The corresponding annual-mean transport caused by KLCES reaches 0.24–0.38 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), accounting for 6.8%–10.8% of the upper-layer Luzon Strait transport. Altimeter-based statistics show that among ~90% of the historical KLCES events, a cyclonic eddy (CE) is immediately generated behind the AE southwest of Taiwan. Both energetics and stability analyses reveal that because of its large horizontal velocity shear southwest of Taiwan, the northern branch of KLC is strongly unstable and the barotropic instability of KLC constitutes the primary generation mechanism for the CE. After CE is generated, it quickly grows and gradually migrates southward, which in turn facilitates the detachment of AE from KLC. The intrinsic relationship between KLC and CE explains well why eddy pairs are commonly observed in the region southwest of Taiwan.

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Qingxuan Yang, Wei Zhao, Min Li, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

Turbulent mixing in the northwestern Pacific Ocean is estimated using the Gregg–Henyey–Polzin scaling and Thorpe-scale methods. The data sources are the hydrographic observations during October and November 2005. The results reveal clear spatial patterns of turbulent mixing in the study area. High-level diffusivity on the order of 10−3 m2 s−1 or larger is found within the western boundary region, where the Kuroshio flows northward. The width covered by this prominent diffusivity shows an increase from 12° to 18°N. The horizontal distribution of depth-averaged diffusivity in the top 500 m shows enhanced mixing with diffusivity of 6 × 10−3 m2 s−1 south of 9°N where the Mindanao Eddy remains a quasi-permanent feature. These two distinct patterns of diffusivity distribution suggest that the Kuroshio and the Mindanao Eddy are likely responsible for the elevated turbulent mixing in the study area.

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Li Tao, Tim Li, Yuan-Hui Ke, and Jiu-Wei Zhao

Abstract

A Pacific–Japan (PJ) pattern index is defined based on the singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis of summertime 500-hPa height in East Asia and precipitation in the tropical western North Pacific (WNP). The time series of this PJ index shows clearly the interannual and interdecadal variations since 1948. Idealized atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments were carried out to understand the remote and local SST forcing in causing the interannual variations of the PJ pattern and interdecadal variations of the PJ-like pattern. It is found that the PJ interannual variation is closely related to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). A basinwide warming occurs in the tropical Indian Ocean (TIO) during El Niño mature winter. The TIO warming persists from the El Niño peak winter to the succeeding summer. Meanwhile, a cold SST anomaly (SSTA) appears in the eastern WNP and persists from the El Niño mature winter to the succeeding summer. Idealized AGCM experiments that separate the TIO and WNP SSTA forcing effects show that both the remote eastern TIO forcing and local WNP SSTA forcing are important in affecting atmospheric heating anomaly in the WNP monsoon region, which further impacts the PJ interannual teleconnection pattern over East Asia. In contrast to the interannual variation, the interdecadal change of the PJ-like pattern is primarily affected by the interdecadal change of SST in the TIO rather than by the local SSTA in the WNP.

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Qin Xu, Li Wei, Yi Jin, Qingyun Zhao, and Jie Cao

Abstract

This paper proposes a new method to properly define and accurately determine the vortex center of a model-predicted tropical cyclone (TC) from a dynamic perspective. Ideally, a dynamically determined TC vortex center should maximize the gradient wind balance or, equivalently, minimize the gradient wind imbalance measured by an energy norm over the TC vortex. In practice, however, such an energy norm cannot be used to easily and unambiguously determine the TC vortex center. An alternative yet practical approach is developed to dynamically and unambiguously define the TC vortex center. In this approach, the TC vortex core of near-solid-body rotation is modeled by a simple parametric vortex constrained by the gradient wind balance. Therefore, the modeled vortex can fit simultaneously the perturbation pressure and streamfunction of the TC vortex part (extracted from the model-predicted fields) over the TC vortex core area (within the radius of maximum tangential wind), while the misfit is measured by a properly defined cost function. Minimizing this cost function yields the desired dynamic optimality condition that can uniquely define the TC vortex center. Using this dynamic optimality condition, a new method is developed in the form of iterative least squares fit to accurately determine the TC vortex center. The new method is shown to be efficient and effective for finding the TC vortex center that accurately satisfies the dynamic optimality condition.

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Zhou Shenghui, Wei Ming, Wang Lijun, Zhao Chang, and Zhang Mingxu

Abstract

The sensitivity of the ill-conditioned coefficient matrix (CM) and the size of the analysis volume on the retrieval accuracy in the volume velocity processing (VVP) method are analyzed. By estimating the upper limit of the retrieval error and analyzing the effects of neglected parameters on retrieval accuracy, the simplified wind model is found to decrease the difficulty in solving and stabilizing the retrieval results, even though model errors would be induced by neglecting partial parameters. Strong linear correlation among CM vectors would cause an ill-conditioned matrix when more parameters are selected. By using exact coordinate data and changing the size of the analysis volume, the variation of the condition number indicates that a large volume size decreases the condition number, and the decrease caused by increasing the number of volume gates is larger than that caused by increasing the sector width. Using the spread of errors in the solution, a demonstration using mathematical deduction is provided to explain how a large analysis volume can improve retrieval accuracy. A test with a uniform wind field is used to demonstrate these conclusions.

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Qingxuan Yang, Wei Zhao, Xinfeng Liang, Jihai Dong, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

Direct microstructure observations across three warm mesoscale eddies were conducted in the northern South China Sea during the field experiments in July 2007, December 2013, and January 2014, respectively, along with finestructure measurements. An important finding was that turbulent mixing in the mixed layer was considerably elevated in the periphery of each of these eddies, with a mixing level 5–7 times higher than that in the eddy center. To explore the mechanism behind the high mixing level, this study carried out analyses of the horizontal wavenumber spectrum of velocities and spectral fluxes of kinetic energy. Spectral slopes showed a power law of k −2 in the eddy periphery and of k −3 in the eddy center, consistent with the result that the kinetic energy of submesoscale motion in the eddy periphery was more greatly energized than that in the center. Spectral fluxes of kinetic energy also revealed a forward energy cascade toward smaller scales at the wavelength of kilometers in the eddy periphery. This study illustrated a possible route for energy cascading from balanced mesoscale dynamics to unbalanced submesoscale behavior, which eventually furnished turbulent mixing in the upper ocean.

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Chun Zhou, Wei Zhao, Jiwei Tian, Qingxuan Yang, and Tangdong Qu

Abstract

The Luzon Strait, with its deepest sills at the Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, is the only deep connection between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea (SCS). To investigate the deep-water overflow through the Luzon Strait, 3.5 yr of continuous mooring observations have been conducted in the deep Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough. For the first time these observations enable us to assess the detailed variability of the deep-water overflow from the Pacific to the SCS. On average, the along-stream velocity of the overflow is at its maximum at about 120 m above the ocean bottom, reaching 19.9 ± 6.5 and 23.0 ± 11.8 cm s−1 at the central Bashi Channel and Luzon Trough, respectively. The velocity measurements can be translated to a mean volume transport for the deep-water overflow of 0.83 ± 0.46 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) at the Bashi Channel and 0.88 ± 0.77 Sv at the Luzon Trough. Significant intraseasonal and seasonal variations are identified, with their dominant time scales ranging between 20 and 60 days and around 100 days. The intraseasonal variation is season dependent, with its maximum strength taking place in March–May. Deep-water eddies are believed to play a role in this intraseasonal variation. On the seasonal time scale, the deep-water overflow intensifies in late fall (October–December) and weakens in spring (March–May), corresponding well with the seasonal variation of the density difference between the Pacific and SCS, for which enhanced mixing in the deep SCS is possibly responsible.

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