Decadal Variability of Eddy Characteristics and Energetics in the Kuroshio Extension: Unstable Versus Stable States Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Using the Estimating Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Phase II product, this study investigates the eddy characteristics and energetics in two dynamical regimes within the Kuroshio Extension (KE) region. Based on the empirical orthogonal function analysis, it is found that the decadal evolution of eddy kinetic energy in the KE region is characterized by a delayed negative correlation between the upstream and downstream. Besides the out-of-phase change in eddy activity levels, eddy characteristics and energetics in the upstream KE are also different from those in the downstream. In the upstream region, eddies are stretched in the zonal direction and the unstable state is characterized by strong eddy-shedding processes. During these processes, cyclonic eddies are found to be formed in the first quasi-stationary meander and finally pinched off from the KE jet. Energy budget illustrates that the eddy shedding processes are triggered by baroclinic instability, while barotropic instability becomes the dominated energy source after the meander is fully developed. Accompanied by the generation of cyclonic eddies, significant inverse energy cascade is detected. When the upstream KE is stable, the eddy activity is dominated by baroclinic instability and the inverse energy cascade occurs similarly. Distinct from the upstream, eddies in the downstream KE tend to be stretched in the meridional direction and the decadal variability of eddy kinetic energy in this region is mainly regulated by the upstream through lateral advection.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Yang, H., Qiu, B. o., Chang, P., Wu, L., Wang, S., Chen, Z., & Yang, Y.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Yang, Haiyuan||Qiu, Bo||Chang, Ping||Wu, Lixin||Wang, Shengpeng||Chen, Zhaohui||Yang, Yun

publication date

  • September 2018