Low-frequency variability of a semi-closed sea induced by the circulation in an adjacent ocean in a wind-driven, quasi-geostrophic, eddy-resolving simulation

Mu, Lin; Zhong, Linhao; Hua, Lijuan; Song, Jun
October 2011
Ocean Dynamics;Oct2011, Vol. 61 Issue 10, p1459
Academic Journal
The wind-driven circulation in the northwestern Pacific and the South China Sea (SCS) is simplified as a two-layer, quasi-geostrophic model in two rectangular basins connected by an idealized strait. This model is used to investigate the impact of the western boundary current (WBC) on the adjacent marginal sea. The variability of the circulation in the two basins is investigated with a high resolution and at low viscosity, which allows the numerical solution to resolve mesoscale eddy forcing. The model ocean is driven by the time-independent asymmetric wind stress acting on the idealized Pacific (large basin) only. Under the reference parameters used in this study, the WBC can intrude into the idealized SCS (small basin) in the form of a loop current, shedding eddies regularly. The rate of eddy shedding is nearly constant throughout the entire integration time of the model; however, the intensity of the eddy-shedding exhibits multiple timescale variability ranging from quasi-biennial to decadal timescale. A set of sensitivity experiments demonstrate that our results are robust against changes to model parameters and geometry. Multivariate spectral analysis is used to extract the spatiotemporal feature of the variability. Joint analysis for the two basins shows that the circulation in the idealized SCS is significantly impacted by the variability at decadal (15-year), interannual (5-7-year and quasi-biennial), and quasi-annual timescales. The spatial structures of the modes of variablility suggest that the variance in position of the WBC, combined with mesoscale activity, act to influence the low-frequency modes of the idealized SCS. The structural differences between the modes strongly impacting the idealized SCS and those having weak influence are also presented.


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