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Investigation of the physicochemical features and mixing of East/Japan Sea Intermediate Water: An isopycnic analysis approach

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We present spatial distributions of the mixing ratio and properties of the East/Japan Sea Intermediate Water (ESIW) at its core density layer (σ = 27.2–27.3) based on high-quality hydrographic data observed in the East/Japan Sea (EJS) during summer 1999. ESIW is defined as a source water type showing minimum salinity and maximum dissolved oxygen concentration. ESIW plays an important role in supplying dissolved oxygen and transporting anthropogenic carbon into the intermediate/deep layers in EJS. Studying the ESIW formation and distribution processes may provide insights on EJS's shallow- to mid-depth thermohaline circulation and recent ocean changes. Here, we combine the previously estimated mixing ratio of ESIW, based on Optimum Multi-Parameter (OMP) analysis, and its physicochemical properties, such as pressure, dissolved oxygen, and phosphate, interpolated onto several isopycnic surfaces (σ = 27.20, 27.25, and 27.30). The physicochemical properties of ESIW show steep north-south gradients across the subpolar front at 40–41°N. Higher dissolved oxygen concentrations (≥335 μmol kg–1) of ESIW are found in the western Japan Basin particularly off the Primorye coast, indicating a potential source region. The spatial and depth distributions of apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) on the ESIW isopycnic surfaces indicate that the subduction of ESIW occurs at 131–133°E (Ulleung Basin) across the subpolar front to the south. The density layer of ESIW shoals near the Korean coast in the Ulleung Basin, implying a potential link to coastal upwelling. The relative age of ESIW at its core layer is estimated from the oxygen utilization rate and AOU. The correlation between the pCFC12 and relative ages, and AOU estimated at 90% surface water oxygen saturation condition suggests a decadal-scale ventilation of ESIW (≤24 years). Younger waters at the ESIW coexist with the high-salinity intermediate water at the same density layer in the eastern Japan Basin. Our analysis suggests that ESIW is sensitive to climate forcing and an important shallow- to mid-depth thermohaline circulation component of EJS.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1357/002224010796673849

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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