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The role of wind, mesoscale dynamics, and coastal circulation in the interannual variability of the South Vietnam Upwelling, South China Sea – answers from a high-resolution ocean model
10/01/23 01:27PM
Thai To Duy; Herrmann, Marine; Estournel, Claude; Marsaleix, Patrick; Duhaut, Thomas; et al.  Ocean Science; Katlenburg-Lindau Vol. 18, Iss. 4, (2022): 1131-1161. DOI:10.5194/os-18-1131-2022

The South Vietnam Upwelling (SVU) develops in the South China Sea (SCS) under the influence of southwest monsoon winds. To study the role of small spatiotemporal scales on the SVU functioning and variability, a simulation was performed over 2009–2018 with a high-resolution configuration (1 km at the coast) of the SYMPHONIE model implemented over the western region of the SCS. Its capability to represent ocean dynamics and water masses from daily to interannual scales and from coastal to regional areas is quantitatively demonstrated by comparison with available satellite data and four in situ datasets. The SVU interannual variability is examined for the three development areas already known: the southern (SCU) and northern (NCU) coastal upwelling areas and the offshore upwelling area (OFU). Our high-resolution model, together with in situ observations and high-resolution satellite data, moreover shows for the first time that upwelling develops over the Sunda Shelf off the Mekong Delta (MKU).

Our results confirm for the SCU and OFU and show for the MKU the role of the mean summer intensity of wind and cyclonic circulation over the offshore area in driving the interannual variability of the upwelling intensity. They further reveal that other factors contribute to SCU and OFU variability. First, the intraseasonal wind chronology strengthens (in the case of regular wind peaks occurring throughout the summer for SCU or of stronger winds in July–August for OFU) or weakens (in the case of intermittent wind peaks for SCU) the summer average upwelling intensity. Second, the mesoscale circulation influences this intensity (multiple dipole eddies and associated eastward jets developing along the coast enhance the SCU intensity). The NCU interannual variability is less driven by the regional-scale wind (with weaker monsoon favoring stronger NCU) and more by the mesoscale circulation in the NCU area: the NCU is prevented (favored) when alongshore (offshore) currents prevail.

Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.5194/os-18-1131-2022