Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 66 (No. 1), pp. 85-94, 2010
Xuhua Cheng* and Yiquan Qi
LED, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, China
(Received 25 February 2009; in revised form 2 September 2009; accepted 4 September 2009)
Abstract: Fifteen years of merged altimetric data were used to acquire the seasonal to interanual variations of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the South China Sea (SCS). The results show that climatological mean EKE in the SCS ranges from 50 cm2/s2 to 1,400 cm2/s2, with high values in the regions southeast of Vietnam and southwest of Taiwan Island. The amplitude of the annual harmonic of the EKE is characterized by high values to the southeast of Vietnam where the maximum exceeds 800 cm2/s2. The EKE in the northern SCS reaches its maximum in August-February, while it peaks in September-December in the southern SCS. Besides the seasonal variation, the EKE also shows strong interannual variation, which has a negative (positive) anomaly in boreal winter during El Niño (La Niña) events. The interannual variation of local wind stress curl associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation events may be the cause of the interannual variation of the EKE in the SCS.