Based on eddy-permitting ocean circulation model outputs, the mesoscale variability is studied in the Sea of Okhotsk. We confirmed that the simulated circulation reproduces the main features of the general circulation in the Sea of Okhotsk. In particular, it reproduced a complex structure of the East-Sakhalin current and the pronounced seasonal variability of this current. We established that the maximum of mean kinetic energy was associated with the East-Sakhalin Current. In order to uncover causes and mechanisms of the mesoscale variability, we studied the budget of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the Sea of Okhotsk. Spatial distribution of the EKE showed that intensive mesoscale variability occurs along the western boundary of the Sea of Okhotsk, where the East-Sakhalin Current extends. We revealed a pronounced seasonal variability of EKE with its maximum intensity in winter and its minimum intensity in summer. Analysis of EKE sources and rates of energy conversion revealed a leading role of time-varying (turbulent) wind stress in the generation of mesoscale variability along the western boundary of the Sea of Okhotsk in winter and spring. We established that a contribution of baroclinic instability predominates over that of barotropic instability in the generation of mesoscale variability along the western boundary of the Sea of Okhotsk. To demonstrate the mechanism of baroclinic instability, the simulated circulation was considered along the western boundary of the Sea of Okhotsk from January to April 2005. In April, the mesoscale anticyclonic eddies are observed along the western boundary of the Sea of Okhotsk. The role of the sea ice cover in the intensification of the mesoscale variability in the Sea of Okhotsk was discussed.
Ocean Dynamics – Springer Journals
Published: May 29, 2018
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