Changes in water properties and transports along 24°N in the North Pacific between 1985 and 2005

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Abstract

[1] We conducted a trans-Pacific hydrographic section along 24°N in 2005 to investigate the ocean structure and its changes from previous observations in 1985. We detected significant basin-average water property changes from 1985 to 2005. Apparent oxygen utilization increased below the thermocline by up to 6 μmol kg−1 around the density of the central mode water (around 600 m). It appeared that the North Pacific intermediate water (around 800 m) was less dense in 2005 than in 1985 because of warming. From the decrease of the zonal gradient of the temperature and salinity around the North Pacific deep water (2500–4000 m) and lower circumpolar deep water (<4000 m), we suggest that northward bottom water and southward deep water transports became weaker from 1985 to 2005, consistent with the speculation from the observed temperature increase of the bottom water along its main path in previous studies. Although these water property changes suggest a slowdown of the meridional overturn in the North Pacific and large transport changes in the deep layers (below 4000 m) are estimated from an inverse method, significant heat transport changes were not detected. The estimated temperature transport change of 0.1 PW between the two sections was mainly due to shallow overturn changes, especially changes in the Kuroshio. To describe variability due to the Kuroshio changes, we estimated mass and heat transport changes from long-term observations of the Kuroshio in the Okinawa Trough, and we determined decadal variability of temperature transports, which was consistent with the variability estimated from sea-surface flux data sets.

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