Mean transport and seasonal cycle of the Kuroshio east of Taiwan with comparison to the Florida Current

Thomas N. Lee, William E. Johns, Cho Teng Liu, Dongxiao Zhang, Rainer Zantopp, Yih Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Moored observations of Kuroshio current structure and transport variability were made across the channel between northeast Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands at 24° N from September 19, 1994, to May 27, 1996. This was a cooperative effort between the United States and Taiwan. The moored array was designated PCM-1, for the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) transport resolving array. The dominant current and transport variability occurred on 100-day timescales and is shown by Zhang et al. [2001] to be caused by warm mesoscale eddys merging with the Kuroshio south of the array causing offshore meandering and flow splitting around the Ryukyu Islands. An annual transport cycle could not be resolved from our 20-month moored record because of aliasing from the 100-day period events. Sea level difference data were used to extend the transport time series to 7 years giving a variation in the range of the annual transport cycle of 4-10 Sv, with a mean range closer to 4 Sv. The seasonal maximum of 24 Sv occurred in the summer and the seasonal minimum of 20 Sv occurred in the fall. A weaker secondary maximum also occurred in the winter. The cycle of Kuroshio transport appears to result from a combination of local along-channel wind forcing and Sverdrup forcing over the Philippine Sea. Our estimate of the mean transport of the Kuroshio at the entrance to the East China Sea from the moored array is 21.5 ± 2.5 Sv. The mean transpacific balance of meridional flows forced by winds and thermohaline processes at this latitude requires an additional mean northward flow of 12 Sv with an annual cycle of ±8 Sv along the eastern boundary of the Ryukyu Islands. The mean transport and annual cycle of the Kuroshio were found to be in reasonable agreement with basin-scale wind-forced models. Remarkable similarities are shown to exist between the mean western boundary currents and their seasonal cycles in the Atlantic (Florida Current and Antilles Current) and Pacific (Kuroshio and boundary current east of Ryukyu Island chain) at the same latitude. However, detailed comparison shows that the mean Kuroshio is weaker and more surface intensified than the mean Florida Current, while the Kuroshio transport variability is significantly larger.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000JC000535
Pages (from-to)22143-22158
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue numberC10
StatePublished - Oct 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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