Ocean Science Journal

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Interannual Variation of Surface Circulation in the Japan/East Sea due to External Forcings and Intrinsic Variability

  • Byoung-Ju ChoiEmail author
  • Seong Hun Cho
  • Hee Seok Jung
  • Sang-Ho Lee
  • Do-Seong Byun
  • Kyungman Kwon


The interannual variation of surface ocean currents can be as large as seasonal variation in the Japan/East Sea (JES). To identify the major factors that cause such interannual variability of surface ocean circulation in the JES, surface circulation was simulated from 1998 to 2009 using a three-dimensional model. Contributions of atmospheric forcing (ATM), open boundary data (OBC), and intrinsic variability (ITV) of the surface flow in the JES on the interannual variability of surface ocean circulation were separately examined using numerical simulations. Variability in surface circulation was quantified in terms of variance in sea surface height, 100-m depth water temperature, and surface currents. ITV was found to be the dominant factor that induced interannual variabilities of surface circulation, the main path of the East Korea Warm Current (EKWC), and surface kinetic energy on a time scale of 2–4 years. OBC and ATM were secondary factors contributing to the interannual variation of surface circulation. Interannual variation of ATM changed the separation latitude of EKWC and increased the variability of surface circulation in the Ulleung Basin. Interannual variation of OBC enhanced low-frequency changes in surface circulation and eddies in the Yamato Basin. It also modulated basin-wide uniform oscillations of sea level. This study suggests that precise estimation of initial conditions using data assimilation is essential for long-term prediction of surface circulation in the JES.


intrinsic variability East Korea Warm Current interannual variation Japan/East Sea 


  1. Cho YK, Seo GH, Choi BJ, Kim S, Kim YG, Youn YH, Dever EP (2009) Connectivity among straits of the northwest Pacific marginal seas. J Geophys Res 114: C06018. doi:10.1029/2008JC005218Google Scholar
  2. Choi BJ, Haidvogel DB, Cho YK (2004) Nonseasonal sea level variations in the Japan/East Sea from satellite altimeter data. J Geophy Res 109: C12028. doi:10.1029/2004JC002387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Choi BJ, Haidvogel DB, Cho YK (2009) Interannual variation of the Polar Front in the Japan/East Sea from summertime hydrography and sea level data. J Marine Syst 78:351–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Choi BJ, Byun DS, Lee KH (2012) Satellite-altimeter-derived East Sea surface currents: estimation, description and variability pattern. J Korean Soc Oceanogr 17:225–242Google Scholar
  5. Condron A, Renfrew IA (2013) The impact of polar mesoscale storms on northeast Atlantic Ocean circulation. Nat Geosci 6:34–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ducet N, Le Traon P-Y, Reverdin G (2000) Global high resolution mapping of ocean circulation from TOPEX/Poseidon and ERS-1 and-2. J Geophys Res 105:19477–19498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Egbert GD, Erofeeva SY (2002) Efficient inverse modeling of barotropic ocean tides. J Atmos Ocean Tech 19:183–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haidvogel DB, Arango HG, Hedstrom K, Beckmann A, Malanotte-Rizzoli P, Shchepetkin AF (2000) Model evaluation experiments in the North Atlantic Basin: simulations in nonlinear terrain following coordinates. Dynam Atmos Oceans 32:239–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hirose N, Ostrovskii AG (2000) Quasi-biennial variability in the Japan Sea. J Geophys Res 105:14011–14027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hogan PJ, Hulbert HE (2005) Sensitivity of simulated circulation dynamics to the choice of surface wind forcing in the Japan/East Sea. Deep-Sea Res Pt II 52:1464–1489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Holloway G, Sou T, Eby M (1995) Dynamics of circulation of the Japan Sea. J Mar Res 53:539–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Isoda Y (1999) Cooling-induced current in the upper ocean of the Japan Sea. J Oceanogr 55:585–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jiang S, Jin FL, Ghil M (1995) Multiple equilibria, periodic, and aperiodic solutions in a wind-driven, double-gyre, shallowwater model. J Phys Oceanogr 25:764–786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kim K, Cho YK, Choi BJ, Kim YG, Beardsley RC (2002) Sea level variability at Ulleung Island in the East (Japan) Sea. J Geophys Res 107(C3):3015. doi:10.1029/2001JC000895CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kim SB, Fukumori I (2008) A near uniform basin-wide sea level fluctuation over the Japan/East Sea: a semienclosed sea with multiple straits. J Geophys Res 113: C06031. doi:10.1029/2007JC004409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim YH, Chang KI, Park JJ, Park SK, Lee SH, Kim YG, Jung KT, Kim K (2009) Comparison between a reanalyzed product by 3-dimensional variational assimilation technique and observations in the Ulleung Basin of the East/Japan Sea. J Marine Syst 78:249–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee DK, Niiler P (2010) Surface circulation in the southwestern Japan/East Sea as observed from drifters and sea surface height. Deep-Sea Res Pt I 57:1222–1232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lee SK (1999) Self-excited variability of the East Korean Warm Current: a quasi-geostrophic model study. J Korean Soc Oceanogr 34:1–21Google Scholar
  19. Meinvielle M, Brankart JM, Brasseur P, Barnier B, Dussin R, Verron J (2013) Optimal adjustment of the atmospheric forcing parameters of ocean models using sea surface temperature data assimilation. Ocean Sci 9:867–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Metzger EJ, Hurlburt HE (2001) The nondeterministic nature of Kuroshio penetration and eddy shedding in the South China. J Phys Oceanogr 31:1712–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moriyasu S (1972) The Tsushima Current. In: Stommel H, Yoshida K (eds) Kuroshio: its physical aspects, University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, pp 353–369Google Scholar
  22. Naganuma K (1973) On discussions on the existence of the Third-Branch of the Tsushima current. Jpn Sea Reg Fish Res Lab 266:1–3 (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  23. Nonaka M, Sasai Y, Sasaki H, Taguchi B, Nakamura H (2016) How potentially predictable are midlatitude ocean currents? Sci Rep 6:20153. doi:10.1038/srep20153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Seo GH, Cho YK, Choi BJ (2014) Variations of heat transport in the northwestern Pacific marginal seas inferred from highresolution reanalysis. Prog Oceanogr 121:98–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wolfe C, Cessi P, Cornuelle B (2017) An intrinsic mode of interannual variability in the Indian Ocean. J Phys Oceanogr 47:701–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST) and the Korean Society of Oceanography (KSO) and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byoung-Ju Choi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Seong Hun Cho
    • 2
  • Hee Seok Jung
    • 3
  • Sang-Ho Lee
    • 2
  • Do-Seong Byun
    • 4
  • Kyungman Kwon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Oceanography, College of Natural ScienceChonnam National UniversityGwangjuKorea
  2. 2.Department of Oceanography, Graduate SchoolKunsan National UniversityGunsanKorea
  3. 3.Ocean Circulation and Climate Research CenterKIOSTAnsanKorea
  4. 4.Ocean Research DivisionKorea Hydrographic and Oceanographic AgencyBusanKorea

Personalised recommendations