Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 647–670 | Cite as

Long-term variability of the Kuroshio path south of Japan

  • Norihisa UsuiEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Tsujino
  • Hideyuki Nakano
  • Satoshi Matsumoto
Original Article


This study investigates the long-term variability of the Kuroshio path south of Japan. Sensitivity experiments using a data-assimilative model suggest that the duration of the large meander (LM) strongly depends on the Kuroshio transport; specifically, low transport leads to a long duration of the LM. Actually, we find a good correlation between the duration of the past LMs and the Sverdrup transport estimated by a wind-driven linear baroclinic vorticity model. Then we explore favorable conditions for the LM and find a close relationship between the Kuroshio Extension (KE) state and the LM. That is, a precondition for the LM that the Kuroshio path on the Izu Ridge is fixed at a deep channel located around 34°N is achieved during a stable KE state. In addition, westward propagating signals with negative anomalies in the Kuroshio region and high sea-surface height (SSH) state east of Taiwan are key for generation of a small meander southeast of Kyushu that triggers a subsequent LM. The signals related to the above conditions change the upstream Kuroshio transport and velocity, which are consistent with features indicated by the former observational studies. Using reanalysis data, we construct long-time series of indices for the three conditions, which explain well the past LMs. The indices suggest that long-term non-LM states around 1970 and in the 1990s were attributed to a low-SSH state east of Taiwan and an unstable KE state, respectively.


Kuroshio Large meander Long-term variability Kuroshio Extension Sverdrup transport Data assimilation 



The authors would like to thank the members of the ocean modeling and assimilation group at the Meteorological Research Institute for fruitful discussions. Comments from anonymous reviewers greatly improved the earlier version of the manuscript. The tide gauge data were obtained from the web site of the Japan Oceanographic Data Center. The PN transport data for the hydrographic observations were provided by Dr. Toshiya Nakano. This study was funded by the Meteorological Research Institute. Part of it was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) through a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) 21740346, by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) through a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas 22106006, and by the Research Program on Climate Change Adaptation (RECCA) of MEXT.


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norihisa Usui
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hiroyuki Tsujino
    • 1
  • Hideyuki Nakano
    • 1
  • Satoshi Matsumoto
    • 2
  1. 1.Oceanography and Geochemistry Research DepartmentMeteorological Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Global Environment and Marine DepartmentJapan Meteorological AgencyChiyoda-kuJapan

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