Wind- Versus Eddy-Forced Regional Sea Level Trends and Variability in the Pacific Ocean

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:40 AM
Bo Qiu1,2, Shuiming Chen2, Lixin Wu3 and Shinichiro Kida4, (1)Univ Hawaii Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States, (2)University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States, (3)Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China, (4)JAMSTEC Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan
Regional sea level trend and variability in the Pacific Ocean have often been considered to be induced by low-frequency surface wind changes. In
this study, we demonstrate that significant sea level trend and variability can also be generated by eddy momentum flux forcing due to time-varying
instability of the background oceanic circulation. Compared to the broad gyre-scale wind-forced variability, the eddy-forced sea level changes
tend to have sub-gyre scales and, in the North Pacific Ocean, they are largely confined to the Kuroshio Extension region (30-40N, 140-165E) and the Subtropical Countercurrent (STCC) region (18-28N, 130-165E). Using a two-layer primitive-equation model driven by the ECMWF wind stress data and the eddy momentum fluxes specified by the AVISO sea surface height anomaly data, we quantified the relative importance of the wind- and eddy-forced regional sea level trends in the past two decades. It is found that the increasing (decreasing) trend south (north) of the Kuroshio
Extension is due to strengthening of the regional eddy forcing over the past two decades. On the other hand, the decreasing (increasing) sea level trend south (north) of the STCC is caused by the decadal weakening of the regional eddy momentum flux forcing. These decadal eddy momentum flux changes are caused by the background Kuroshio Extension and STCC changes in connection with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) wind pattern shifting from a positive to negative phase over the past two decades.