In the southern Japan Sea there is a salinity minimum layer between the Tsushima Current Water and the Japan Sea Proper Water. Since the salinity minimum corresponds to the North Pacific Intermediate Water, it is named the Japan Sea Intermediate Water (JIW). To examine the source and circulation of JIW, the basin-wide salinity minimum distribution was investigated on the basis of hydrographic data obtained in 1969. The young JIW, showing the highest oxygen concentration and the lowest salinity, is seen in the southwestern Japan Sea west of 133°E, while another JIW with lower oxygen and higher salinity occupies the southeastern Japan Sea south of the subpolar front. Since the young JIW shows high oxygen concentrations, high temperatures and low densities, the source of the water is probably in the surface layer. It is inferred that the most probable region of subduction is the subarctic front west of 132°E with the highest oxygen and the lowest salinity at shallow salinity minimum. In addition, property distributions suggest that JIW takes two flow paths: a eastward flow along the subarctic front and an southward flow toward the Ulleung Basin. On the other hand, a different salinity minimum from JIW occupies the northern Japan Sea north of the subarctic front, which shows an apparently higher salinity and high oxygen concentration than JIW. However, this salinity minimum is considered not to be a water mass but to be a boundary between overlying and underlying water masses.
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