Hydrographic structure and transport of the Oyashio south of Hokkaido and the formation of North Pacific Intermediate Water Academic Article uri icon


  • Hydrographic structure and transport of the Oyashio south of Hokkaido were described with conductivity-temperature-depth and lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler (LADCP) survey performed in June 1998. The southwestward Oyashio transport just off the Hokkaido coast was 10.1 Sv in the density of 26.6-27.5 sigma (theta), in which 2.5 Sv was from the Okhotsk Sea and 7.6 Sv was from the Western Subarctic Gyre (WSAG). The Oyashio northeastward countercurrent was 4.9 Sv, The cross-gyre Oyashio transport in the area from the east coast of Hokkaido to the Subarctic Front was estimated to be 5.2 Sv; 2.4 Sv in 26.6-27.0 sigma (theta) was mainly composed of low potential vorticity Okhotsk Sea water and 2.8 Sv in 27.0-27.5 sigma (theta) mostly from WSAG, suggesting that the Okhotsk Sea water (WSAG water) would contribute to the formation of the upper (lower) part of the North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW). The Oyashio water was lower in oxygen than in the subtropical areas south of the Subarctic Front in the density of 26.9-27.6 sigma (theta), possibly because of the absence of the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) influence with the relatively high oxygen water that might be transported along the western boundary of the North Pacific Ocean and along the Kuroshio Extension, increasing the oxygen in the areas south of the Subarctic Front. Just south of the Subarctic Front, a cold- and fresh-core anticyclonic eddy was observed with a salinity minimum in the core, suggesting one possible formation process of NPIW. The density of the potential vorticity minimum in the southwestward Oyashio near Hokkaido was at around 26.65 sigma (theta), which was lower than 26.8-26.9 sigma (theta) observed in the early 1990s. This is possibly because the potential vorticity vertical profiles in the Okhotsk Sea and WSAG significantly changed corresponding to the water mass regime shift occurred in the Subarctic Pacific in the mid-1990s [Kawasaki, 1999].

publication date

  • April 15, 2001