Recent progress in studies of the South China Sea circulation

Research paper by Qinyu Liu, Arata Kaneko, Su Jilan

Indexed on: 19 Sep '08Published on: 19 Sep '08Published in: Journal of Oceanography


The South China Sea (SCS) is a semi-enclosed marginal sea with deep a basin. The SCS is located at low latitudes, where the ocean circulations are driven principally by the Asia-Australia monsoon. Ocean circulation in the SCS is very complex and plays an important role in both the marine environment and climate variability. Due to the monsoon-mountain interactions the seasonal spatial pattern of the sea surface wind stress curl is very specific. These distinct patterns induce different basin-scale circulation and gyre in summer and winter, respectively. The intensified western boundary currents associated with the cyclonic and anticyclonic gyres in the SCS play important roles in the sea surface temperature variability of the basin. The mesoscale eddies in the SCS are rather active and their formation mechanisms have been described in recent studies. The water exchange through the Luzon Strait and other straits could give rise to the relation between the Pacific and the SCS. This paper reviews the research results mentioned above.