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Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans

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Abstract/ Summary

Numerous mesoscale eddies occur each year in the South China Sea (SCS), but their statistical characteristics are still not well documented. A Pacific basin-wide three dimensional physical-biogeochemical model has been developed and the result in the SCS subdomain is used to quantify the eddy activities during the period of 1993-2007. The modeled results are compared with a merged and gridded satellite product of sea level anomaly by using the same eddy identification and tracking method. On average, there are about 32.9 +/- 2.4 eddies predicted by the model and 32.8 +/- 3.4 eddies observed by satellite each year, and about 52% of them are cyclonic eddies. The radius of these eddies ranges from about 46.5 to 223.5 km, with a mean value of 87.4 km. More than 70% of the eddies have a radius smaller than 100 km. The mean area covered by these eddies each year is around 160,170 km(2), equivalent to 9.8% of the SCS area with water depths greater than 1000 m. Linear relationships are found between eddy lifetime and eddy magnitude and between eddy vertical extent and eddy magnitude, showing that strong eddies usually last longer and penetrate deeper than weak ones. Interannual variations in eddy numbers and the total eddy-occupied area indicate that eddy activities in the SCS do not directly correspond to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation events. The wind stress curls are thought to be an important but not the only mechanism of eddy genesis in the SCS.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Xiu P, Chai F, Shi L, Xue HJ, Chao Y. A Census of Eddy Activities in the South China Sea During 1993-2007. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 2010;115: C03012. To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.

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Copyright 2010 American Geophysical Union.




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