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Eddy induced Kuroshio intrusions onto the continental shelf of the East China Sea

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The Kuroshio is known to intrude onto the continental shelf in the southern East China Sea (ECS) northeast of Taiwan. Two types of intrusions are observed: large and small, depending on how far the Kuroshio penetrates onto the ECS continental shelf, and on the location where it crosses the shelf break. This study demonstrates that cyclonic eddies from the western Pacific induce some of these large Kuroshio intrusions. The large intrusions are identified from more than 20 years of drifter tracks archived in the Global Drifter Program historical database and from weekly and biweekly drifter deployments carried out between April 2008 and September 2009 west of the Green Island (Taiwan). Kuroshio intrusions are observed in all seasons. Cyclonic mesoscale eddies, generated in the Subtropical Countercurrent and North Equatorial Current regions of the northwest Pacific Ocean, propagate westward into the Kuroshio and are well correlated with the observed intrusions. During the intrusions, the mean sea level anomaly computed from AVISO gridded maps shows a well-defined cyclonic circulation southeast of the I-Lan ridge. The mean sea level anomaly also shows the meandering pattern of the Kuroshio when it intrudes onto the continental shelf of the southern East China Sea. The high correlation between the Kuroshio volume transport in the East Taiwan Channel (observed with moorings) and the satellite sea level anomaly permits us to use sea level anomaly as a proxy for the Kuroshio volume transport. When direct transport measurements are not available, this proxy is used to verify that intrusions due to the westward propagating eddies occur when the Kuroshio transport is low. An analytical reduced gravity model of an incident baroclinic current upon a step shelf is used to explain the difference between the large and small intrusions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2013

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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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