Comparison of upper ocean thermal conditions in the western North Pacific between two pentads: 1938-42 and 1978-82

Frederick M. Bingham, Toshio Suga, Kimio Hanawa

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In order to understand long-term changes in the temperature structure of the upper western North Pacific, we compared thermal conditions in two pentads, 1938-42 (P34) and 1978-82 (P78). The 1938-42 data were taken mostly by the Japanese Imperial Navy in a series of hydrographic surveys. The 1978-82 data were mostly XBT data taken as part of the TRANSPAC program. For each pentad, the data were interpolated to a set of standard depths, put through quality control procedures and averaged on a 1o×1o grid. A large area of the central subtropical gyre was warmer during P78, while the southern subtropical gyre, in the area of the North Equatorial Current was warmer during P34. This suggests that the transports of the Kuroshio and North Equatorial currents were larger during P78. Properties of North Pacific subtropical mode water (NPSTMW) were compared between pentads. It was found that NPSTMW was thicker, more uniform in temperature and more confined geographically during P34. A greater thickness is shown to result from stronger wintertime cooling during P34. Changes in the geographic extent of NPSTMW probably result from reduced advection by the Kuroshio current system during P34. The reason for the reduced advection maybe the Kuroshio was in a large meander state for a larger fraction of the earlier pentad, which can cut off advection west of the Izu Ridge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-425
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Dec


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