Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 63, Issue 8, pp 979–993 | Cite as

Modeling the circulation in the Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea

Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 4th International Workshop on Modelling the Ocean in Yokohama, Japan 21–24 May 2012


The circulation in the Gulf of Tonkin (Beibu Gulf) was studied using the Princeton Ocean Model, which was forced with the daily surface and lateral boundary fluxes for 2006 and 2007, as well as tidal harmonics and monthly climatological river discharges. In the southern Gulf, the vertically averaged circulation was anti-cyclonic in summer and changed to cyclonic in winter. Although it was highly correlated with the local wind, the southern gyre was driven primarily by the South China Sea (SCS) general circulation from the south. Flows in the Qiongzhou Strait that played a significant role in determining the circulation variability in the northeastern Gulf could be eastward or westward at any given day in summer or winter, but the seasonal mean current was eastward from late spring through summer and westward during the rest of the year, with an annual mean westward transport of ∼0.1 Sv into the Gulf. Different water masses were distinguished at the surface with the warm and saline SCS water in the south, relatively fresh plume waters along the northern and western coasts of the Gulf, and the mixture of the two in between. At lower levels, two cold water masses were identified in the model, and each had T/S distributions qualitatively similar to the observations obtained in 2007. These two water masses were produced throughout the winter, sheltered from the surface warming by a thermocline as the season progressed, and eventually disappeared in late fall.


Gulf of Tonkin Qiongzhou Strait Circulation Water masses 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jingsong Gao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Huijie Xue
    • 2
  • Fei Chai
    • 2
  • Maochong Shi
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.School of Marine SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Guangxi Academy of SciencesNanningChina

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