The western South China Sea currents from measurements by Argo profiling floats during October to December 2007
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The three dimensional structure of the western boundary current east of the Vietnam coast was determined from measurements by Argo profiling floats which deployed near the east of the Vietnam Coast in October 2007. The trajectories of the Argo floats provided robust evidence that there does exist southward flowing current along the Vietnam coast. The southward current begins at about 15°N, 111°E, flowing along the 1 000 m isobath and extending to 5°N south. The estimated surface and parking depth velocities obtained from the floats suggest that this southward current can extend to 1 000 m depth. The mean surface velocity of the western boundary current is about 49 cm/s, with the maximum speed exceeding 100 cm/s occurring at 11.6°N, 109.5°E in the direction of 245°. The mean parking depth (1 000 m) velocity is 12–16 cm/s with the maximum speed of 36 cm/s occurring at 12.1°N, 109.7°E in the direction of 239°.
The water mass analysis suggests that the Kuroshio surface water and NPIW are not apparent in the western boundary current although this time was the favored season for the Kuroshio intrusion into Luzon Strait. The mean geostrophic currents suggest that the Kuroshio intrusion into Luzon Strait during October to December 2007 is very weak, as most of the intruding water was carried eastward at 14°N near the western boundary and little flowed southward along the western boundary, providing an explanation for the absence of Kuroshio surface water and NPIW in the water mass analysis. There is a strong cyclonic circulation in the SSCS during this time, which induces a strong mixing in the western boundary companied by a homogeneous salinity layer between 300–600 m in the salinity vertical distribution. No reversal undercurrent occurred at the intermediate depth along the western boundary east of the Vietnam coast during October to December 2007.
KeywordSouthern South China Sea western boundary current Argo profiling float intermediate-depth current
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