TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 61 (No. 5), pp. 987-993, 2005

Short Contribution

Altimeter Measurements of Wind and Wave Modulation by the Kuroshio in the Yellow and East China Seas

Paul A. Hwang*

Oceanography Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-5004, U.S.A.

(Received 28 December 2004; in revised form 17 February 2005; accepted 14 March 2005)

Abstract: The Kuroshio is the major ocean current conveying heat and water mass in the Pacific Ocean. The impact of the Kuroshio on regional wind and wave distributions has been studied with spaceborne-altimeter measurements in the Yellow and East China Seas. In this region the Kuroshio trajectory is relatively stationary and the monsoon patterns dominate, making it an ideal natural laboratory for large scale air-sea-current interaction research. Major findings from this study include: (a) The Kuroshio exerts significant influence on the wind and wave distributions over a swath about 800-km wide along its path. (b) Seasonal average wind speeds reach a maximum near the Kuroshio axis. The magnitude of enhancement ranges between 20 and 50 percent. (c) The distribution of the surface wave heights displays similar spatial patterns to the wind-speed distribution. The Kuroshio effects on wave heights are further complicated by the hydrodynamic modulation of wave-current interaction and the influence of thermal stratification on wind-wave generation. (d) Kuroshio effects are most prominent in the first and last quarters of the year, and least prominent in the third quarter.

*Corresponding author E-mail: paul.hwang@nrlssc.navy.mil

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