Seasonal evolution of the Yellow Sea Cold Water Mass and its interactions with ambient hydrodynamic system

Jianchao Li, Guangxue Li (Lead / Corresponding author), Jishang Xu, Ping Dong, Lulu Qiao, Shidong Liu, Pingkuo Sun, Zhisong Fan

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The Yellow Sea Cold Water Mass (YSCWM) is an important component of the hydrodynamic system in the South Yellow Sea (SYS). However, its intricate interactions with the ambient flows over long time scales are not fully understood. This paper presents the analysis of the data set obtained from a seabed-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) deployed for nearly 1 year in the western SYS. It allowed us to study the evolution of YSCWM, including the seasonal changes of tidal currents, near-inertial oscillations (NIOs), and the wind-driven currents due to typhoons and winter storms. Strong NIOs were found near the bottom of mixed layer and in the pycnocline with nearly opposite current directions, with maximum velocity of nearly 20 cm·s-1 in summer. The YSCWM can also inhibit the direct downward energy transport in the water column due to typhoons. Conversely, the hydrodynamic system also feeds back to influence the change of YSCWM. A large current shear (S) of 20 cm·s-1·m-1 is generated near the top of pycnocline. Generally, the intensity and depth of the pycnocline determine S's magnitude and vertical location, respectively. Based on the monthly averaged density profile data, the Richardson number and wavelet analysis, the NIOs are considered to be capable of inducing predominant shear instability around the pycnocline. However, the NIOs are not strong enough to influence the lower YSCWM. In addition, in autumn, each fortnightly spring tide corresponds with a bottom temperature increase of nearly 2°C, indicating that tidal currents are the leading hydrodynamic driving force to decline the YSCWM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6779-6792
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number9
Early online date29 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2016


  • Near-inertial oscillations
  • Pycnocline
  • Shear current
  • Tidal current
  • Yellow Sea Cold Water Mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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