Long-Term Trend and Interannual to Decadal Variability in the Sea of Okhotsk

  • Takuya Nakanowatari
  • Humio MitsuderaEmail author
Part of the Atmosphere, Earth, Ocean & Space book series (AEONS)


In this article, we describe physical aspects of long-term variations in the Sea of Okhotsk. The maximum sea ice extent (MSIE) in the Sea of Okhotsk decreased at a rate of −8.7 ± 2.5% per decade from 1979 to 2010, which is the second largest fraction of ice reduction in the marginal seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The Okhotsk Sea Intermediate Water (OSIW) on the isopycnal surface of 27.0σθ exhibits a remarkable warming trend, with a maximum value of 0.62 ± 0.18 °C over the last 50 years. Salinity of the dense shelf water (DSW) is a key parameter of the OSIW warming; DSW salinity decreases at a rate of −0.12 ± 0.08 over the last 50 years, caused by freshening of the surface salinity in the subarctic North Pacific, as well as reduction in ice production in the Sea of Okhotsk. Besides, interannual-to-decadal scale variations are evident in the MSIE, DSW salinity and OSIW temperature, and their mechanisms are discussed. Further, the sea level along the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, correlated with the wind-driven coastal current, exhibits coherent interannual variations. Effects of the 18.6-year-period nodal tide cycle, caused by strong tides along the Kuril Islands, are also discussed.


Sea ice Dense shelf water Salinity Warming of the Okhotsk Sea intermediate water Coherent sea level variations 18.6-year-period nodal tide 



AMSR-E data was supplied by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency through the Arctic Data archive System (ADS), under the cooperation between National Institute of Polar Research and JAXA. We would thank Dr. Sasaki for providing us with data to redraw some figures. We would also thank Dr. Nishikawa for drawing figures. This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (17H01156 and JP18H04909).


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hokkaido National Fisheries Research Institute, Japan Fisheries Research and Education AgencyKushiroJapan
  2. 2.Pan Okhotsk Research Center, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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