We examine the processes underlying the generation and propagation of the small meander of the Kuroshio south of Japan which occurs prior to the transition from the non-large meander path to the large meander path. The study proceeds numerically by using a two-layer, flat-bottom, quasi-geostrophic inflow-outflow model which takes account of the coastal geometries of Kyushu, Nansei Islands, part of the East China Sea, and the Izu Ridge. The model successfully reproduces the observed generation and propagation features of what is called 'trigger meander' until it passes by Cape Shiono-misaki; presumably because of the absence of the bottom topography, the applicability of the present numerical model becomes questionable after the trigger meander passes by Cape Shiono-misaki. The generation of the trigger meander off the south-eastern coast of Kyushu is shown to be associated with the increase in the supply of cyclonic vorticity by the enhanced current velocity in the upper layer along the southern coast of Kyushu where the no-slip boundary condition is employed. Thereafter, the trigger meander propagates eastward while inducing an anticyclone-cyclone pair in the lower layer. The lower-layer cyclone induced in this way, in particular, plays a crucial role in intensifying the trigger meander trough via cross-stream advection in the upper layer; the intensified trigger meander trough then further amplifies the lower-layer cyclone. This joint evolution of the upper-layer meander trough and the lower-layer cyclone indicates that baroclinic instability is the dominant mechanism underlying the rapid amplification of the eastward propagating trigger meander.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes