Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 57–75 | Cite as

The Kuroshio Extension System: Its Large-Scale Variability and Role in the Midlatitude Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction



The Kuroshio Extension and its recirculation gyre form an interconnected dynamic system. The system is located at a crossroads where the meso-scale and large-scale oceanic variability are highest, and where the ocean-atmosphere interaction is most active in the Pacific Ocean outside of the tropics. Following a brief review of the mean flow and meso-scale eddy variability, this study describes in detail the large-scale structural change (an oscillation between an elongated and a contracted state) observed in the Kuroshio Extension system. Causes for this structural change are explored next, and it is argued that the basin-wide external wind forcing and the nonlinear dynamics associated with the inertial recirculation gyre are both important factors. Data analysis results are reviewed and presented, emphasizing that the surface Kuroshio Extension is not simply a well-mixed layer passively responding to heat flux anomalies imposed by the atmosphere. It is argued that large-scale changes in the Kuroshio Extension system influence the surface ocean heat balance and generate wintertime sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies through both horizontal geostrophic heat advection and re-emergence to the surface mixed layer of sequestered mode water temperature anomalies.

Kuroshio Extension recirculation gyre mixed layer heat balance obduction midlatitude ocean-atmosphere coupling 


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© The Oceanographic Society of Japan 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OceanographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluU.S.A.

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