Subtidal variability in the Northern South China Sea during Spring 2001
Weller, Megan D.
Ramp, Steven R.
Rosefeld, Leslie K.
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The Asian Seas International Acoustics Experiment (ASIAEX) conducted in April and May of 2001 helped researchers take a major step in understanding the circulation of the northern South China Sea. This region crosses one of the primary sea lanes of communication between Chinese submarine bases and the Pacific theater, therefore making it an extremely valuable source of knowledge for the United States Navy. This thesis provides a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the mesoscale variability in the South China Sea during spring 2001 using observational data from the ASIAEX experiment. An array of moorings (S1-S8) equipped with ADCPs, pressure gauges, temperature and salinity sensors, and current meters, was placed between the southern tip of Taiwan and Dongsha Island (Pratis Reef). Data results show that significant mesoscale features existed in the South China Sea. Mean currents over the continentalshelf were found to be primarily wind driven while flows over the continental slope were forced by the mesoscale features. The South China Sea Warm Current was observed twice over the slope during ASIAEX. A cyclonic meander of the northern gyre propagated onshoreand southwest near S7. Tropical Cyclone Cimaron set up apressure driven flow towards the southwest along the continental shelf, suggesting that a storm this size can influence the circulation in the entire South China Sea. Model results from the Northern South China Sea Nowcast/Forecast System were compared to the observational data. The model gave a good description of the big picture in the South China Sea but was unable to resolve the smaller-scale events. The model was too constrained by topography and had a distinct offset of the alongshore component most likely imposed on by open boundary forcing.
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