A modeling study of the characteristics and mechanism of the westward coastal current during summer in the northwestern South China Sea
Title: A modeling study of the characteristics and mechanism of the westward coastal current during summer in the northwestern South China Sea
Journal: Ocean Science Journal, 52(1): 11-30
Authors: DING Y., X.-W. Bao, Z.-G. Yao*, C. Zhang, K. Wan, M. Bao, R.-X. Li, and M.-C. Shi
Abstract:The characteristics and dynamical mechanism of summer-time coastal current over the North South China Sea shelf have been investigated based on a high resolution unstructuredgrid finite volume community ocean model (FVCOM). Modeldata comparison demonstrates that the model describes and explains well the coastal dynamics over the North South China Sea shelf. The coastal current on the North South China Sea shelf is greatly influenced by monsoon and the freshwater discharge of the Pearl River. Strong southwesterly wind drives the coastal current northeastward. However, under weak southwest monsoon, the coastal current west of the Pearl River estuary (PRE) advects toward the southwest, and splits into two parts when reaching east of the Qiongzhou Strait, with one branch entering the Gulf of Tonkin through the Qiongzhou Strait, transporting low salinity water into the Gulf of Tonkin, and the other part flows cyclonic and interacts with the northeastward current around southeast of Hainan Island, forming a cyclonic eddy east of the Qiongzhou Strait. A variety of model experiments focused on freshwater discharge, wind forcing, tidal rectification, and stratification are performed to study the physical mechanism of the southwestward coastal current which is usually against the summer wind. Process-oriented experiment results indicate that the southwest monsoon and freshwater discharge are important factors influencing the formation of southwestward coastal current during summer.