The interannual variability of eastern subtropical mode water (ESTMW) formation in the North Pacific is examined using a new ocean dataset constructed by a 4-dimensional variational data assimilation experiment covering the decade of the 1990s. The volume of newly formed ESTMW varies due to interannual variability in the following three physical processes taking place in the surface layer: (1) convergence in the transport of surface saline water induced by Ekman flow in the vicinity of the formation region, (2) thermal stratification in the preconditioning phase in association with the insolation anomaly induced largely by low-level cloud coverage, and (3) wintertime surface cooling in the eastern subtropics. We find that, in addition to the surface forcing, the properties of both the ESTMW and the upper mixed-layer water are broadly controlled by the volume of the new ESTMW component, and that the variations in the upper mixed-layer water affect the properties of ESTMW formed in the following winter. Due to the combined effect of these processes, the ESTMW subducts down to subsurface layers with a wide range of σθ values lying between 24.8 and 25.4 and with significant interannual variation in water mass formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computers in Earth Sciences
- Atmospheric Science