A new paradigm for the North Pacific subthermocline low-latitude western boundary current system

TitleA new paradigm for the North Pacific subthermocline low-latitude western boundary current system
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsQiu B, Chen S, Rudnick DL, Kashino Y
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume45
Pagination2407-2423
Date Published2015/09
ISBN Number0022-3670
Abstract

Subthermocline western boundary circulation along the low-latitude North Pacific Ocean (2°?25°N) is investigated by using profiling float and historical CTD/expendable CTD (XCTD) data and by analyzing an eddy-resolving global OGCM output. In contrast to the existing paradigm depicting it as a reversed pattern of the wind-driven circulation above the ventilated thermocline (i.e., depth< 26.8 σ?), the subthermocline western boundary circulation is found to comprise two components governed by distinct dynamical processes. For meridional scales shorter than 400 km, the boundary flows along the Philippine coast exhibit convergent patterns near 7°, 10°, 13°, and 18°N, respectively. These short-scale boundary flows are driven by the subthermocline eastward zonal jets that exist coherently across the interior North Pacific basin and are generated by the triad instability of wind-forced annual baroclinic Rossby waves. For meridional scales longer than 400 km, a time-mean Mindanao Undercurrent (MUC) is observed from 6° to 13°N together with another northward-flowing boundary flow beneath the Kuroshio from 16° to 24°N. Rather than remote eddy forcing from the interior Pacific Ocean, both of these broad-scale subthermocline boundary flows are induced by baroclinic instability of the overlying wind-driven western boundary currents, the Mindanao Current, and Kuroshio.

DOI10.1175/JPO-D-15-0035.1
Student Publication: 
No