Impacts of a Mesoscale Eddy Pair on Internal Solitary Waves in the Northern South China Sea Revealed by Mooring Array Observations
Title: Impacts of a Mesoscale Eddy Pair on Internal Solitary Waves in the Northern South China Sea Revealed by Mooring Array Observations
Journal: Journal of Physical Oceanography, 47(7):1539-1554
Authors: HUANG X. -D., Z. -W. Zhang, X. -J. Zhang, H. -B. Qian, W. Zhao*, and J. -W. Tian
Abstract: Both internal solitary waves (ISWs) and mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous in the northern South China Sea (SCS). In this study, the authors examine the impacts of mesoscale eddies on the ISWs transiting the northern SCS deep basin that evolve from the steepening internal tide generated in the Luzon Strait, using in situ data collected from a specifically designed mooring array. From November 2013 to January 2014, an energetic mesoscale eddy pair consisting of one anticyclonic eddy (AE) and one cyclonic eddy (CE) propagated across the mooring array. Observations revealed that the amplitude, propagation direction, and speed of the transbasin ISWs were significantly modulated by the eddy pair. When the moorings were covered by the southern portion of the AE, the ISW amplitudes decreased by as much as 67% because of the thermocline deepening along the wave direction and the energy divergence along the wave front. When the moorings were covered by the northern portions of both eddies, the amplitude of ISWs also decreased but to a relatively smaller degree. ISWs propagated the fastest inside the southern portion of the AE, where both the thermocline deepening and eddy currents enhanced the propagation speed of ISWs. Under the influence of the AE (CE) core, ISWs propagated more northward (southward) than usual. The observational results reported here highlight the importance of resolving mesoscale eddies in circulation–internal wave coupled models to accurately predict kinematic characteristics of ISWs.