Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 141–161 | Cite as

Mechanism of currents through the straits of the Japan Sea: Mean state and seasonal variation

  • Hiroyuki TsujinoEmail author
  • Hideyuki Nakano
  • Tatsuo Motoi
Original Articles


The mechanism governing the mean state and the seasonal variation of the transports through the straits of the Japan Sea is studied using a newly presented, simple analytical model and a basin scale general circulation model (GCM). The GCM reproduces the transports through the straits of the Japan Sea realistically owing to its fine horizontal resolution of about 20 km and realistic topography. A series of experiments conducted by changing surface forcing shows that the annual mean wind-driven circulation in the North Pacific Ocean is most responsible for the formation of the mean transports. It is also found that the seasonal variation of the alongshore component of monsoonal wind stress over the North Pacific basin, especially that over the Okhotsk Sea, is responsible for the seasonal variation of the transports. The simple analytical model can explain these simulated features very well. The physical concept of this model is based on the formation of the around-island circulation through the adjustment of coastally trapped waves and Rossby waves and geostrophic control at the narrow straits. It solves the sea surface heights (SSHs) at the edge of each strait and the transport through it. The value of the line integral of the SSH along the island is determined by the baroclinic Rossby waves approaching the island from the east and the alongshore wind stress around the island. The basin scale seasonal variation of SSH along the coast induced by the variation of the alongshore monsoonal wind stress can also be incorporated into this model by giving the SSH anomaly at the northeastern point of the Soya Strait. Thus, it is suggested that both the mean state and the seasonal variation are caused mainly by wind stress forcing. Minor modification by the seasonal heat flux forcing brings the amplitude and the phase of the seasonal variation closer to the observed values.


Tsushima Current Tsugaru Current Soya Current island rule coastally trapped wave 


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan/TERRAPUB/Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroyuki Tsujino
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hideyuki Nakano
    • 1
  • Tatsuo Motoi
    • 1
  1. 1.Oceanographic Research DepartmentMeteorological Research InstituteNagamine, Tsukuba, IbarakiJapan

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