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Decadal variability of the Kuroshio Extension: mesoscale eddies and recirculations

Abstract

An eddy-resolving multidecadal ocean model hindcast simulation is analyzed to investigate time-varying signals of the two recirculation gyres present respectively to the north and south of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet. The northern recirculation gyre (NRG), which has been detected at middepth recently by profiling float and moored current meter observations, is a major focus of the present study. Low-frequency variations in the intensity of the recirculation gyres are overall highly correlated with decadal variations of the KE jet induced by the basin-wide wind change. Modulation of the simulated mesoscale eddies and its relationship with the time-varying recirculation gyres are also evaluated. The simulated eddy kinetic energy in the upstream KE region is inversely correlated with the intensity of the NRG, consistent with previous observational studies. Eddy influence on the low-frequency modulation of the NRG intensity at middepth is further examined by a composite analysis of turbulent Sverdrup balance, assuming a potential vorticity balance between the mean advection and the convergent eddy fluxes during the different states of the recirculation gyre. The change in the NRG intensity is adequately explained by that inferred by the turbulent Sverdrup balance, suggesting that the eddy feedback triggers the low-frequency modulation of the NRG intensity at middepth.

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Notes

  1. Hereafter “bimodal states” are referred to as two contrasting states of the KE system with respect to the NRG intensity, KE’s quasistationary meanders (Section 3.3), and EKE level in the upstream KE region (discussed in this section).

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their careful reading that helped improve the earlier version of this manuscript. This work is supported by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). MN, BT, and HS are in part supported by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council of Japan, through the research project POMAL (Population Outbreak of Marine Life); BT and MN are also supported by Japan Society for Promotion for Science, through a grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (C) 21540458. BQ and NS are supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) through Grant OCE-0220680 and Grant OCE06-47994, respectively. IPRC Publication Number 691 and SOEST Publication Number 7927.

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Correspondence to Bunmei Taguchi.

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Responsible Editor: Yukio Masumoto

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Taguchi, B., Qiu, B., Nonaka, M. et al. Decadal variability of the Kuroshio Extension: mesoscale eddies and recirculations. Ocean Dynamics 60, 673–691 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10236-010-0295-1

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Keywords

  • Kuroshio Extension
  • Recirculation gyres
  • Mesoscale eddies
  • High-resolution ocean model