South China Sea Surface Elevation Variability Determined From TOPEX/POSEIDON Data
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEPT OF OCEANOGRAPHY
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The South China Sea SCS is a semi-enclosed tropical and sub-tropical sea located between the Asian land mass including Taiwan to the west and north, the Philippine Islands to the east and Malaysia and Borneo to the south, a total of 3.5 10 exp 6 sq km surface area. The observed circulation patterns of the intermediate to upper layers of the SCS are also primarily forced by the local monsoon systems. Based on limited data, Wyrtki 1961 constructed the surface circulation pattern. From April to August, the weaker southwesterly summer monsoon winds result in a wind stress of over 0.1 Nsq m which drives a northward coastal jet off Vietnam and an anticyclonic circulation in the central SCS. From November to March, the stronger northeasterly winter monsoon winds corresponding to a maximum wind stress of nearly 0.2 Nsq m causing a southward coastal jet off Vietnam and a cyclonic circulation in the central SCS. Transitional periods are highly variable winds and surface currents. The current meter observation in SCS is very sparse. It is very hard to get spatial and temporal variability of the SCS circulation from in-situ data. Sea surface elevation anomaly data from the TOPEXPOSEIDON TP provide a useful information about the surface circulation.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography