Deepwater overflow through Luzon Strait
Girton, James B.
Whitehead, John A.
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This study examines water property distributions in the deep South China Sea and adjoining Pacific Ocean using all available hydrographic data. Our analysis reveals that below about 1500 m there is a persistent baroclinic pressure gradient driving flow from the Pacific into the South China Sea through Luzon Strait. Applying hydraulic theory with assumptions of zero potential vorticity and flat bottom to the Luzon Strait yields a transport estimate of 2.5 Sv (1 Sv=106 m3 s-1). Some implications of this result include: (i) a residence time of less than 30 years in the deep South China Sea, (ii) a mean diapycnal diffusivity as large as 10-3 m2 s-1, and (iii) an abyssal upwelling rate of about 3×10-6 m s-1. These quantities are consistent with residence times based on oxygen consumption rates. The fact that all of the inflowing water must warm up before leaving the basin implies that this marginal sea contributes to the water mass transformations that drive the meridional overturning circulation in the North Pacific. Density distributions within the South China Sea basin suggest a cyclonic deep boundary current system, as might be expected for an overflow-driven abyssal circulation.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2006. 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 111 (2006): C01002, doi:10.1029/2005JC003139.
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