Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 363–375 | Cite as

Role of wind forcing and eddy activity in the intraseasonal variability of the barrier layer in the South China Sea

  • Zhanlin Liang
  • Qiang Xie
  • Lili Zeng
  • Dongxiao Wang


In addition to widely discussed seasonal variability, the barrier layer (BL) of the South China Sea (SCS) also exhibits significant intraseasonal variability (ISV) and plays an important role in the upper heat and salt balances. The characteristics and mechanisms of spatiotemporal variations in the BL are investigated using an eddy-resolving ocean model OFES (OGCM For the Earth Simulator) ouput and related atmospheric and oceanic processes. The active intraseasonal BL variability in the SCS occurs mainly during the late summer/autumn and winter and exhibits remarkable differences between these two periods. The BL ISV in late summer/autumn occurs in the southern basin, while in winter, it is limited to the northwestern basin. To further discuss the evolution and driving thermodynamic mechanisms, we quantify the processes that control the variability of intraseasonal BL. Different mechanisms for the intraseasonal BL variability for these two active periods are investigated based on the case study and composite analysis. During late summer/autumn, the active BL in the southern basin is generated by advected and local freshwater, and then decays rapidly with the enhanced wind. In winter, anticyclonic eddy activity is associated with the evolution of the BL by affecting the thermocline and halocline variations, while wind stress and wind stress curl have no obvious influence on BL.


South China Sea Intraseasonal variability Barrier layer Wind stress Eddy kinetic energy 



Highly detailed comments and excellent revision suggestions from two anonymous reviews are gratefully acknowledged. We benefited from numerous datasets made freely available, and those include OFES simulation data, QuikSCAT wind data, and TRMM 3B43 precipitation data from ADPRC, University of Hawaii (, and OAFlux data are from WHOI (

Funding information

This research was supported by the Major State Research Development Program of China (2016YFC1402603) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41606030, 41476014, 41576002, 41676018, 41776025, 41776026). Lili Zeng is also sponsored by the Pearl River S&T Nova Program of Guangzhou and the Open Project Program of State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography (LTOZZ1601).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography (LTO), South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Deep-Sea Science and EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesSanyaChina
  4. 4.Laboratory for Regional Oceanography and Numerical ModelingQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina

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