Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 55 (No. 2), pp. 271-288, 1999
Kyung-Ae Park1 and Jong Yul Chung2
1Research Institute of Oceanography, Seoul National University, Korea
2Department of Oceanography, Seoul National University, Korea
(Received 5 October 1998; in revised form 4 December 1998; accepted 10 December 1998)
Abstract: Sea surface temperature fields in the East Sea are composed of various spatial structures such as eddies, fronts, filaments, turbulent-like features and other mesoscale variations associated with the oceanic circulations of the East Sea. These complex SST structures have many spatial scales and evole with time. Semi-monthly averaged SST distributions based on extensive satellite observations of SSTs from 1990 through 1995 were constructed to examine the characteristics of their spatial and temporal scale variations by using statistical methods of multi-dimensional autocorrelation functions and spectral analysis. Two-dimensional autocorrelation functions in the central part of the East Sea revealed that most of the spatial SST structures are anisotropic in the shape of ellipsoids with minor axes of about 90-290 km and major axes of 100-400 km. Two dimensional spatial scale analysis demonstrated a consistent pattern of seasonal variation that the scales appear small in winter and spring, increase gradually to summer, and then decrease again until the spring of the next year. These structures also show great spatial inhomogeneity and rapid temporal change on time scales as short as a semi-month in some cases. The slopes in spectral energy density spectra of SSTs show characteristics quite similar to horizontal and geostrophic turbulence. Temporal spectra at each latitude are demonstrated by predominant peaks of one and two cycles per year in all regions of the East Sea, implying that SSTs present very strong annual and semi-annual variations.