TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 56 (No. 1), pp. 43-57, 2000

Mesoscale Eddies Observed by TOLEX-ADCP and TOPEX/POSEIDON Altimeter in the Kuroshio Recirculation Region South of Japan

Naoto Ebuchi1* and Kimio Hanawa2

1Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-8578, Japan
2Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-8578, Japan

(Received 12 February 1999; in revised form 28 April 1999; accepted 28 April 1999)

Mesoscale eddies in the Kuroshio recirculation region south of Japan have been investigated by using surface current data measured by an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) installed on a regular ferry shuttling between Tokyo and Chichijima, Bonin Islands, and sea surface height anomaly derived from the TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter. Many cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies were observed in the region. Spatial and temporal scales of the eddies were determined by lag-correlation analyses in space and time. The eddies are circular in shape with a diameter of 500 km and a temporal scale of 80 days. Typical maximum surface velocity and sea surface height anomaly associated with the eddies are 15-20 cm s-1 and 15 cm, respectively. The frequency of occurrence, temporal and spatial scales, and intensity are all nearly the same for the cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies, which are considered to be successive wave-like disturbances rather than solitary eddies. Phase speed of westward propagation of the eddies is estimated as 6.8 cm s-1, which is faster than a theoretical estimate based on the baroclinic first-mode Rossby wave with or without a mean current. The spatial distribution of sea surface height variations suggests that these eddies may be generated in the Kuroshio Extension region and propagate westward in the Kuroshio recirculation region, though further studies are needed to clarify the generation processes.

*Corresponding author E-mail: ebuchi@ocean.caos.tohoku.ac.jp

[Full text] (PDF 1.5 MB)