Studies of South China Sea circulation and thermal structure using a three dimensional numerical model
Edmons, Nathan L.
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The seasonal ocean circulation and thermal structure in the South China Sea (SCS) were studied numerically using the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) with 20 km horizontal resolution and 23 sigma levels conforming to a realistic bottom topography. A sixteen month control run was performed using climatological monthly mean wind stresses and restoring type salt and heat fluxes as surface forcing terms and observational oceanic inflow/outflow at the open boundaries. The seasonally averaged effects of isolated forcing terms are presented and analyzed from the following experiments: 1) non-linear effects removed, 2) wind effects removed, 3) open boundary inflow/outflow set to zero, and 4) open boundary inflow/outflow doubled. This procedure allowed analysis of spatial and temporal contributions of the isolated parameter to the general hydrology of the SCS and some of its specific features. A coastal jet is identified and analyzed, as are a mesoscale topographic gyre and several counter currents. Non-linearity is shown to be important to the energy and volume transport of baroclinic eddy features, but otherwise insignificant. Boundary transport from open lateral boundaries is determined to be of considerable importance to summer circulation and thermal structure, with little effect found for the winter monsoon hydrology. In general, monsoonal circulation patterns and upwelling phenomena are determined and forced by the wind, while boundary transport effects play a secondary role in determining the magnitude of the circulation velocities
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