Variability of surface circulation in the South China Sea from satellite altimeter data

Junjian Guo, Wendong Fang, Guohong Fang, Haiying Chen
2006 Chinese Science Bulletin  
11-year satellite altimeter sea surface height (SSH) anomaly data from January 1993 to December 2003 are used to present the dominant spatial patterns and temporal variations of the South China Sea (SCS) surface circulation through Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis. The first three EOF modes show the obvious seasonal variations of SSH in the SCS. EOF mode one is generally characterized by a basin-wide circulation. Mode two describes the double-cell basin scale circulation structure.
more » ... he two cells were located off west of the Luzon Island and southeast of Vietnam, respectively. EOF mode three presents the mesoscale eddy structure in the western SCS, which develops into a strong cyclonic eddy rapidly from July to September. EOF mode one and mode three are also embedded with interannual signals, indicating that the SCS surface circulation variation is influenced by El Niño events prominently. The strong El Niño of 1997/98 obviously changed the SCS circulation structure. This study also shows that there existed a series of mesoscale eddies in the western SCS, and their temporal variation indicates intra-seasonal and interannual signals.
doi:10.1007/s11434-006-9001-6 fatcat:5dfe7vehu5a75bhy62png2ucn4