Observations of the warm-tongue circulation in the northern East China Sea.

Affiliation

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. [Email]

Abstract

A subsurface thermohaline front semi-permanently formed in association with near-bottom cyclonic circulation in the northern East China Sea was newly found from detailed hydrographic data collected during two cruises in February 2017 (winter) and April 2018 (spring) along with supplementary satellite remote sensing and historical hydrographic data. An alternate intruding frontal structure in water properties was observed across the cyclonic circulation in both seasons as formed by two contrasting water masses-low-temperature and low-salinity (i.e., low spiciness) water transported by the East China Sea Current and high-temperature and high-salinity (i.e., high spiciness) water transported by the Tsushima Warm Current. Consistent structures were confirmed from current observations during the two cruises, historical hydrographic observations, and satellite altimetry-derived sea surface height and surface frontal structure, indicative of retroflection of the Cheju Warm Current as deemed by the seasonal development of thermal stratification in spring. Our results reveal significant heat and material exchanges between the open Pacific and the broad shelf, particularly via diapycnal mixing and cross-front transports associated with across-front flow and cyclonic circulation, in the northern East China Sea.

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