An asymmetric upwind flow, Yellow Sea Warm Current : 2. Arrested topographic waves in response to the northwesterly wind
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A warm and salty water mass exists along the Yellow Sea Trough (YST) in winter. This oceanic water mass is distinct from the ambient shelf water and is distributed on the western side of the YST. It has long been reasoned that a Yellow Sea Warm Current (YSWC) must exist. A recent observational study indeed supports the existence of the YSWC and shows that its position moved progressively westward as the warm water intrudes further shoreward toward the northwest. In this paper, we explain mechanisms for sustaining the YSWC and for its westward displacement. The northwesterly monsoonal wind prevails in the winter and is directed against the YSWC. The cross-trough scale is small compared with the spatial scale of monsoonal variation, so one can assume, to the first order, that the wind stress is uniform across the trough. The curl of depth-averaged wind stress has opposite signs on the two sides of the trough. Consequently, two oppositely rotating gyres develop initially and they converge along the trough giving rise to a barotropic upwind flow. But this upwind flow lasts only for a few days as the two gyres evolve and propagate as topographic waves. For a northerly wind, both gyres move westward since the positive (negative) potential vorticity flux on the western (eastern) side of the trough pushes the water toward shore (trough). If the bottom friction is negligible, the steady response becomes a large anticyclonic gyre over the trough and the upwind current is squeezed toward the shore line. In this case, no YSWC is sustained along or near the trough. This runaway warm current can be arrested by a moderate bottom friction. We therefore propose that the YSWC is actually arrested topographic waves in response to local wind stress forcing.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2011. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 116 (2011): C04027, doi:10.1029/2010JC006514.
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