Mesoscale SST Dynamics in the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension Region


Title: Mesoscale SST Dynamics in the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension Region.

Journal: Journal of Physical Oceanography, 49: 1339-1352.

Authors: JING Z.*, P. Chang, X. Shan, S. -P. Wang, L. -X. Wu, and J. Kurian

Abstract: Mesoscale eddies have been extensively studied based on the sea surface height anomaly (SSHA). However, it is the sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) that is vital to the mesoscale eddy–atmosphere interactions. In this study, we analyze the amplitude relationship between SSHA and SSTA (referred to as the H-T amplitude relationship) in the Kuroshio–Oyashio extension (KOE) region using both observational and reanalysis data. It is found that the spatial distribution of mesoscale SSHA variance is not coincident with mesoscale SSTA variance. The former peaks in the Kuroshio extension around 358N whereas the latter is strongest in the Oyashio extension around 408N. Regression analyses indicate that the rate of SSTA change per SSHA change is 1.88Cm21 in the Kuroshio extension (1458–1608E, 348–368N) but increases drastically by a factor of 3–4 to 6.28Cm21 in the Oyashio extension (1458–1608E, 398–418N). A theoretical expression for the H-T amplitude relationship is derived. Analyzing this expression suggests that the stronger H-T amplitude relationship in the Oyashio extension than the Kuroshio extension is mainly attributed to 1) the smaller thermal expansion coefficient due to the colder background SST, 2) the stronger salinity compensation effect that works against the contribution of SSTA change to sea surface density anomaly (SSDA) change, and 3) the shallower vertical structure of mesoscale eddies. The second factor is ascribed to the strong surface salinity front in the Oyashio extension, while the third factor is found to be qualitatively consistent with the shallower baroclinically unstable modes due to the shallower density front there.