Geostrophic Circulation in the Tropical North Pacific Ocean Based on Argo Profiles
Chu, Peter C.
Dewar, William K.
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Absolute geostrophic currents in the North Pacific Ocean are calculated from the newly gridded Argo profiling float data using the P-vector method for the period of 2004–11. The zonal geostrophic currents based on the Argo profile data are found to be stronger than those based on the traditional World Ocean Atlas 2009 (WOA09) data. A westward mean geostrophic flow underneath the North Equatorial Countercurrent is identified using the Argo data, which is evidenced by sporadic direct current measurements and geostrophic calculations in history. This current originates east of the date line and transports more than 4 3 106 m3 s 21 of water westward in the subsurface northwestern tropical Pacific Ocean. The authors name this current the North Equatorial Subsurface Current. The transport in the geostrophic currents is compared with the Sverdrup theory and found to differ significantly in several locations. Analyses have shown that errors of wind stress estimation cannot account for all of the differences. The largest differences are found in the area immediately north and south of the bifurcation latitude of the North Equatorial Current west of the date line and in the recirculation area of the Kuroshio and its extension, where nonlinear activities are vigorous. It is, therefore, suggested that the linear dynamics of the Sverdrup theory is deficient in explaining the geostrophic transport of the tropical northwestern Pacific Ocean.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-12-0230.1
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