On the western boundary currents in the Philippine Sea


  • Tangdong Qu,

  • Humio Mitsudera,

  • Toshio Yamagata


In this study we describe the velocity structure and transport of the North Equatorial Current (NEC), the Kuroshio, and the Mindanao Current )MC( using repeated hydrographic sections near the Philippine coast. A most striking feature of the current system in the region is the undercurrent structure below the surface flow. Both the Luzon Undercurrent and the Mindanao Undercurrent appear to be permanent phenomena. The present data set also provides an estimate of the mean circulation diagram (relative to 1500 dbar) that involves a NEC transport of 41 Sverdrups (Sv), a Kuroshio transport of 14 Sv, and a MC transport of 27 Sv, inducing a mass balance better than 1 Sv within the region enclosed by stations. The circulation diagram is insensitive to vertical displacements of the reference level within the depth range between 1500 and 2500 dbar. Transport fluctuations are, in general, consistent with earlier observations; that is, the NEC and the Kuroshio vary in the same phase with a seasonal signal superimposed with interannual variations, and the transport of the MC is dominated by a quasi-biennial oscillation. Dynamic height distributions are also examined to explore the dynamics of the current system.