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Water masses in the South China Sea and water exchange between the Pacific and the South China Sea

Research paper by Li Fengqi, Li Lei, Wang Xiuqin, Liu Changle

Indexed on: 01 Apr '02Published on: 01 Apr '02Published in: Journal of Ocean University of China



Abstract

Water masses in the South China Sea (SCS) were identified and analyzed with the data collected in the summer and winter of 1998. The distributions of temperature and salinity near the Bashi Channel (the Luzon Strait) were analyzed by using the data obtained in July and December of 1997. Based on the results from the data collected in the winter of 1998, waters in the open sea areas of the SCS were divided into six water masses: the Surface Water Mass of the SCS (S), the Subsurface Water Mass of the SCS (U), the Subsurface-Intermediate Water Mass of the SCS (UI), the Intermediate Water Mass of the SCS (I), the Deep Water Mass of the SCS (D) and the Bottom Water Mass of the SCS(B). For the summer of 1998, the Kuroshio Surface Water Mass (KS) and the Kuroshio Subsurface Water Mass (KU) were also identified in the SCS. But no Kuroshio water was found to pass the 119.5°E meridian and enter the SCS in the time of winter observations. The Sulu Sea Water (SSW) intruded into the SCS through the Mindoro Channel between 50–75 m in the summer of 1998. However, the data obtained in the summer and winter of 1997 indicated that water from the Pacific had entered the SCS through the northern part of the Luzon Strait in these seasons, but water from the SCS had entered the Pacific through the southern part of the Strait. These phenomena might correlate with the 1998 El-Niño event.