Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 893–904 | Cite as

Intermediate Circulation in the Northwestern North Pacific Derived from Subsurface Floats

  • Takanori Iwao
  • Masahiro Endoh
  • Nobuyuki Shikama
  • Toshiya Nakano


In order to examine the formation, distribution and synoptic scale circulation structure of North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW), 21 subsurface floats were deployed in the sea east of Japan. A Eulerian image of the intermediate layer (density range: 26.6–27.0σθ) circulation in the northwestern North Pacific was obtained by the combined analysis of the movements of the subsurface floats in the period from May 1998 to November 2002 and historical hydrographic observations. The intermediate flow field derived from the floats showed stronger flow speeds in general than that of geostrophic flow field calculated from historical hydrographic observations. In the intermediate layer, 8 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3s−1) Oyashio and Kuroshio waters are found flowing into the sea east of Japan. Three strong eastward flows are seen in the region from 150°E to 170°E, the first two flows are considered as the Subarctic Current and the Kuroshio Extension or the North Pacific Current. Both volume transports are estimated as 5.5 Sv. The third one flows along the Subarctic Boundary with a volume transport of 5 Sv. Water mass analysis indicates that the intermediate flow of the Subarctic Current consists of 4 Sv Oyashio water and 1.5 Sv Kuroshio water. The intermediate North Pacific Current consists of 2 Sv Oyashio water and 3.5 Sv Kuroshio water. The intermediate flow along the Subarctic Boundary contains 2 Sv Oyashio water and 3 Sv Kuroshio water.

Intermediate circulation subsurface float NPIW SAGE 


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takanori Iwao
    • 1
  • Masahiro Endoh
    • 2
  • Nobuyuki Shikama
    • 3
  • Toshiya Nakano
    • 4
  1. 1.Hakodate Marine Observatory, Japan Meteorological AgencyMihara, Hakodate, HokkaidoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Climate System ResearchUniversity of TokyoKomaba, Meguro-ku, TokyoJapan
  3. 3.Frontier Observational Research System for Global Change, Japan Marine Science and Technology CenterNatsushima, Yokosuka, KanagawaJapan
  4. 4.Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological AgencyNagamine, Tsukuba, IbarakiJapan

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