Geophysical Research Letters

Warming and oxygen decrease of intermediate water in the northwestern North Pacific, originating from the Sea of Okhotsk, 1955–2004



[1] On the basis of all available data, it is found that intermediate water temperature on the 26.8–27.4σθ isopycnals in the northwestern North Pacific has significantly increased during the past 50 years. The largest warming area exists in the western part of the Sea of Okhotsk with a 0.68°C/50-yr temperature increase observed at 27.0σθ. The warming in the Pacific is found over the Oyashio and Subarctic Current regions, where the Okhotsk water extends along the subarctic gyre. This suggests that the warming originates from the Sea of Okhotsk. The warming trend is also accompanied by the significant decreasing trend of dissolved oxygen content, suggesting the weakening of overturning in the northwestern North Pacific. We propose that these trends of the water mass property are caused by a decrease in dense shelf water production in the northwestern shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk, which is a sensitive area to the current global warming.