Interannual variation of the Polar Front in the Japan/East Sea from summertime hydrography and sea level data

Byoung Ju Choi, Dale B. Haidvogel, Yang Ki Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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The Polar Front in the Japan/East Sea separates the southern warm water region from the northern cold water region. A merged TOPEX/POSEIDON and ERS-1/2 altimeter dataset and upper water temperature data were used to determine the frontal location and to examine the structure of its interannual variability from 1993 to 2001. The identified frontal location, where sea surface height gradient has a maximum about 10-20 cm over the horizontal distance of 100 km, corresponds well to the maximum subsurface horizontal temperature gradient. The front migrates more widely (36°N-41°N) in the western part of the sea than in the eastern part. The interannual migration induces large variability in upper water temperatures and sea surface height in the western region. Responsible physical mechanisms were studied using a reduced-gravity model. Differences between inflow and outflow change the total volume of warm water, and total warm water volume change in the warm water region uniformly pushes the front in the meridional direction across its mean position in the model simulation. Interannual variation of wind stress causes relatively wide migration of the modeled front in the western part.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-362
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


  • 126°E-142°E
  • 34°N-52°N
  • Altimeter data
  • Hydrographic data
  • Interannual variation
  • Japan/East Sea
  • Northwestern Pacific Ocean
  • Numerical model
  • Polar Front

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