Variations of the Kuroshio Axis South of Kyushu in Relation to the Large Meander of the Kuroshio
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The characteristics of the Kuroshio axis south of Kyushu, which meanders almost sinusoidally, are clarified in relation to the large meander of the Kuroshio by analyzing water temperature data during 1961–95 and sea level during 1984–95. The shape of the Kuroshio axis south of Kyushu is classified into three categories of small, medium, and large amplitude of meander. The small amplitude category occupies more than a half of the large-meander (LM) period, while the medium amplitude category takes up more than a half of the non-large-meander (NLM) period. Therefore, the amplitude and, in turn, the curvature of the Kuroshio axis is smaller on average during the LM period than the NLM period. The mean Kuroshio axis during the LM period is located farther north at every longitude south of Kyushu than during the NLM period, with a slight difference west of the Tokara Islands and a large difference to the east. A northward shift of the Kuroshio axis in particular east of the Tokara Islands induces small amplitude and curvature of the meandering shape during the LM period. During the NLM period, the meandering shape and position south of Kyushu change little with Kuroshio volume transport. In the LM formation stage, the variation of the Kuroshio axis is small west of the Tokara Islands but large to the east due to a small meander of the Kuroshio. In the LM decay stage, the Kuroshio meanders greatly south of Kyushu and is located stably near the coast southeast of Kyushu.
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