Abstract: Enhanced Diapycnal Mixing in the South China Sea



Authors: Jiwei Tian, Qingxuan Yang, Wei Zhao

Profiles of current velocity, temperature and salinity were obtained in the Internal Wave and Mixing Experiment in the South China Sea (SCS), the Luzon Strait and the North Pacific. The observations are examined for evidence of enhanced diapycnal mixing in the SCS which reaches O(10−3 m2 s−1) in magnitude. Results from independent casts reveal that diapycnal diffusivity in the SCS and the Luzon Strait is elevated by two orders of magnitude over that of the smooth bathymetry in the North Pacific, which are typical of background values in an open ocean. The vertical distribution of diapycnal diffusivity is nonuniform in the SCS, exhibiting higher values at depths greater than about 1000 m. This result compares favorably with the direct microstructure measurements at four stations in the SCS. Velocity and density profiles are combined to estimate the internal tide energy flux generated in the Luzon Strait and directed into the SCS. The energy amounts to 10 GW, most of which is rationalized to be the potential energy source for enhanced mixing in the SCS.