TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 57 (No. 1), pp. 55-68, 2001

Variation of the Kuroshio in the Tokara Strait Induced by Meso-Scale Eddies

Kaoru Ichikawa*

Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, Kyushu University, Kasuga, Fukuoka 816-8580, Japan
also; Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change, Tokyo, Japan

(Received 1 May 2000; in revised form 31 August 2000; accepted 13 September 2000)

Abstract: Temporal variations of the Kuroshio volume transport in the Tokara Strait and at the ASUKA line are decomposed by phase-propagating Complex EOF modes of high-resolution sea surface dynamic topography (SSDT) field during the first tandem period of TOPEX/POSEIDON and ERS-1 (from October 1992 to December 1993). Both variations are dominated by a mode with nearly semi-annual cycle, which indicates a series of interactions between the Kuroshio and meso-scale eddies. Namely, northern part of a westward-propagating meso-scale eddy at 23°N is captured into the southern side of the Kuroshio at the south of Okinawa, then it moves downstream along the Kuroshio path passing the Tokara Strait, and reaches to the ASUKA line where it merges with another eddy propagating from the east at 30°N. The variation at the ASUKA line is, however, less dominated by this mode; instead, it includes the SSDT variations in the south of Shikoku and the east of Kyushu which would be directly affected by eddies from the east without passing the Tokara Strait. On the other hand, the same analysis for movements of the Kuroshio axis in the Strait indicates that they are governed by short-term variations locally confined to the Kuroshio in the East China Sea without being induced by meso-scale eddies. This results, however, seem to depend strongly on a time scale of interest. It is suggested that the long-term movements of the Kuroshio axis in the Strait would demonstrate coincidence with SSDT variation in the south of Japan.


*Corresponding author E-mail: ichikawa@riam.kyushu-u.ac.jp


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