Local wind effect on the Kuroshio path state off the southeastern coast of Kyushu

  • Hirohiko NakamuraEmail author
  • Riku Hiranaka
  • Daisuke Ambe
  • Tsutomu Saito


Small meanders of the Kuroshio southeast of Kyushu, Japan, are conventionally known to form in winter or early spring, but rarely in other seasons. This study examines the seasonal nature of the small meander formation as it relates to the seasonal monsoon winds over the East China Sea, based on observational data analyses, theoretical considerations and numerical experiments. Positional data of the Kuroshio path indicate that the small meander experiences phase locking with the seasonal cycle, as is conventionally thought, although its intensity is modulated on decadal time scales. Monthly mean data of the surface geostrophic current and wind stress fields indicate that the southwestward wind blowing against the Kuroshio in the autumn and early winter causes an inshore-ward shift of the Kuroshio in the northern Okinawa Trough. This effect acts to strengthen the convoluted pattern of the Kuroshio path around Kyushu, and to develop the small meander southeast of the same island. Assuming that the Kuroshio is a surface geostrophic jet with a double-exponential velocity profile, the observed evidence is well explained by a combination of Ekman layer dynamics and quasi-geostrophic dynamics. More specifically, Ekman pumping due to nonlinear Ekman divergence over the jet decreases (increases) the surface velocity of the offshore (inshore) side of the jet, resulting in the inshore-ward shift of the jet. A two-layer shallow water model with idealized topography shows that the response of the modeled Kuroshio to the local wind stress is consistent with observational and theoretical results.


Small meander formation mechanism Seasonality Local wind forcing Observational data analyses Theoretical considerations Numerical experiments 



We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their critical reading of the manuscript and important comments. A dataset of the surface geostrophic current fields in 1992–2011 was produced as part of the Study on Prediction and Application of Fish Species Alternation (SUPRFISH) promoted by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council (AFFRC), Japan. The overall work of this study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science [Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 22106002, 22244057, 15H03725].


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hirohiko Nakamura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Riku Hiranaka
    • 1
  • Daisuke Ambe
    • 2
  • Tsutomu Saito
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of FisheriesKagoshima UniversityKagoshimaJapan
  2. 2.National Research Institute of Fisheries ScienceFisheries Research AgencyYokohamaJapan

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