Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 5–20

Progress of North Pacific mode water research in the past decade

Special Section: Review New developments in mode-water research: Dynamic and climatic effects

DOI: 10.1007/s10872-011-0032-5

Cite this article as:
Oka, E. & Qiu, B. J Oceanogr (2012) 68: 5. doi:10.1007/s10872-011-0032-5


This article reviews the progress in research on North Pacific mode waters of the past decade from the physical oceanographic perspective. The accumulation of satellite altimeter sea surface height data, the rapid growth of the Argo profiling float array, and the advancement in eddy-resolving ocean general circulation models have greatly improved the traditional views on the mode waters that were formed prior to the 1990s based on the analyses of historical temperature/salinity data. Areas where significant progress was made include: (1) descriptions of the mode waters’ distributions and properties with fine spatial scales, particularly in their formation regions in winter where observational data had been insufficient; (2) clarifications of the mode waters’ formation and subduction processes relating to the large-scale mean circulation, as well as to the time-varying mesoscale eddy field; (3) impacts of the mode waters’ circulation and dissipation processes on the climate and biogeochemical processes; and (4) dynamic versus thermodynamic causes underlying the mode waters’ decadal changes. In addition to the review, future directions for mode water research are also presented.


Mode waters North Pacific Physical oceanography Seasonal to decadal variability Eddy modifications Climate and biogeochemical impacts 

Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoKashiwaJapan
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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