Investigating Mesoscale Eddy Characteristics In the Luzon Strait Region Using Altimetry

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Ocean Science and Engineering


The circulation in the northern South China Sea (SCS) strongly responds to anticyclonic eddies that shed from the Kuroshio intruding across Luzon Strait. An eddy tracking algorithm was applied to 26 years of altimetry data to better quantify the surface characteristics of eddies in and near the Luzon Strait with an emphasis on eddies with significant westward propagation across the northern SCS. Spatial mean eddy characteristics revealed that the most robust anticyclonic eddies are in the region of 20–22° N and 118–120° E (where eddies have been observed to shed from the Kuroshio into the northern SCS) and in the North Pacific Gyre east of the Luzon Strait (18–22° N, 121–124° E). The composite structure of mesoscale eddies revealed stronger, more high-amplitude eddies east of the Kuroshio for both circulation types, which was true in all seasons but the starkest contrast was during the summer monsoon. We then isolated the ten farthest westward-propagating eddies that generated in the Luzon Strait region. The majority of these long-propagating eddies occurred during the boreal fall and winter when the cyclonic basin-scale circulation was conducive to eddy propagation along the Chinese shelf break. Using the Kuroshio South China Sea Index (KSI), we find that a highly viable condition for generation of North Pacific Gyre eddies that propagated westward across the Luzon Strait was found when the Kuroshio bifurcates with one branch into the northern SCS and the other northward along eastern Taiwan. In this state, an anticyclonic eddy can generate east of the Kuroshio and be advected into the SCS.

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Ocean Dynamics





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