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Spatial distribution and seasonality of halocline structures in the subarctic north Pacific

TitleSpatial distribution and seasonality of halocline structures in the subarctic north Pacific
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKatsura S., Ueno H., Mitsudera H., Kouketsu S.
Date Published2020/01
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000504733500002
Keywordsbarrier-layer formation; equatorial; gauge observations; mixed layer; mixed-layer; North Pacific Ocean; ocean; oceanography; pacific; Pacific Ocean; salinity; seasonal cycle; subtropical mode water; surface-layer; toga decade; variability; western

The spatial distribution and seasonality of halocline structures in the subarctic North Pacific (SNP) were investigated using Argo profiling float data and various surface flux data collected in 2003-17. The permanent halocline (PH) showed zonal patterns in the spatial distributions of its depth and intensity and tended to be shallow and strong in the eastern SNP but deep and weak in the west. Mean distributions of PH depth and intensity corresponded to the winter mixed layer depth and sea surface salinity, respectively, indicating that it forms in association with the development of the winter mixed layer. In the Western Subarctic Gyre and Alaskan Gyre, where a relatively strong PH formed, PH intensity and depth showed clear seasonal variations, and deepening of the mixed layer compressed the underlying PH during the cooling period, resulting in intensification and development of the PH in late winter. In both regions, upwelling of high-salinity water also contributed to PH intensification. The summer seasonal halocline (SH) showed distinct zonal differences in frequency and intensity, which were opposite to the PH distribution. While an SH formed in the western and central SNP and coastal regions, it was seldom present in the eastern area. This zonal contrast of SH corresponded to freshening of the mixed layer during the warming period, primarily reflecting freshwater flux. Geostrophic and Ekman advection play important roles in spatial differences in SH intensity and depth. SH development contributed to PH intensification in the following winter, by decreasing salinity above the PH through entrainment.

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