Interdecadal Variability of the Eastward Current in the South China Sea Associated with the Summer Asian Monsoon Academic Article uri icon


  • Based on the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) dataset and three types of Sverdrup streamfunction, an interdecadal variability of the eastward current in the middle South China Sea (SCS) during summer is identified. Both the pattern and strength of the summer Asian monsoon wind stress curl over the SCS contribute to the interdecadal variability of this current. From 1960 to 1979, the monsoon intensified and the zero wind stress curl line shifted southward. Both the core of positive wind stress curl in the northern SCS and the negative curl in the southern SCS moved southward and thus induced a southward shift of both the southern anticyclonic and northern cyclonic gyres, resulting in a southward displacement of the eastward current associated with these two gyres. In the meantime, the southern (northern) SCS anticyclonic (cyclonic) ocean gyre weakened (strengthened) and therefore also induced the southward shift of the eastward current near the intergyre boundary. In contrast, the eastward current shifted northward from 1980 to 1998 because the monsoon relaxed and the zero wind stress curl line shifted northward. After 1998, the eastward jet moved southward again as the zero wind stress curl line shifted southward and the SCS monsoon strengthened. The eastward current identified from the baroclinic streamfunction moved about 1.7° more southward than that from the barotropic streamfunction, indicating that the meridional position of the eastward current is depth dependent.

publication date

  • November 2010