TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 59 (No. 6), pp. 893-904, 2003

Intermediate Circulation in the Northwestern North Pacific Derived from Subsurface Floats

Takanori Iwao1*, Masahiro Endoh2, Nobuyuki Shikama3 and Toshiya Nakano4

1Hakodate Marine Observatory, Japan Meteorological Agency, Mihara, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-0806, Japan
2Center for Climate System Research, University of Tokyo, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan
3Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change, Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, Natsushima, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
4Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological Agency, Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan

(Received 15 January 2003; in revised form 18 August 2003; accepted 18 August 2003)

Abstract: In order to examine the formation, distribution and synoptic scale circulation structure of North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW), 21 subsurface floats were deployed in the sea east of Japan. A Eulerian image of the intermediate layer (density range: 26.6-27.0sq) circulation in the northwestern North Pacific was obtained by the combined analysis of the movements of the subsurface floats in the period from May 1998 to November 2002 and historical hydrographic observations. The intermediate flow field derived from the floats showed stronger flow speeds in general than that of geostrophic flow field calculated from historical hydrographic observations. In the intermediate layer, 8 Sv (1 Sv 106 m3s-1) Oyashio and Kuroshio waters are found flowing into the sea east of Japan. Three strong eastward flows are seen in the region from 150°E to 170°E, the first two flows are considered as the Subarctic Current and the Kuroshio Extension or the North Pacific Current. Both volume transports are estimated as 5.5 Sv. The third one flows along the Subarctic Boundary with a volume transport of 5 Sv. Water mass analysis indicates that the intermediate flow of the Subarctic Current consists of 4 Sv Oyashio water and 1.5 Sv Kuroshio water. The intermediate North Pacific Current consists of 2 Sv Oyashio water and 3.5 Sv Kuroshio water. The intermediate flow along the Subarctic Boundary contains 2 Sv Oyashio water and 3 Sv Kuroshio water.

*Corresponding author E-mail: t_iwao@met.kishou.go.jp

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