An Okhotsk Sea-Water Anomaly - Implications for Ventilation in the North Pacific

Talley, LD.  1991.  An Okhotsk Sea-Water Anomaly - Implications for Ventilation in the North Pacific. Deep-Sea Research Part a-Oceanographic Research Papers. 38:S171-S190.


beta-plane, lenses, ocean


An unusually cold, fresh and oxygenated layer of water centered at a pressure of 800 dbar and sigma-theta of 27.4 was found at a CTD station in the western Pacific at 43-degrees-5'N, 153-degrees-20'E in August 1985. The anomaly was part of a larger pattern of less dramatic but nevertheless higher variance at densities up to 27.6-sigma-theta in the mixed water region of the Oyashio and Kuroshio, south of the Bussol' Strait, which connects the Sea of Okhotsk and the open North Pacific. Isopycnal maps indicate that the source of the anomaly, which was embedded in a cyclonic flow, was the Okhotsk Sea. Surface properties in the Okhotsk Sea, based on all available NODC observations, and isopycnal maps indicate that the layer probably did not originate at the sea surface in open water. Instead, the principal modifying influences at densities of 26.8-27.6-sigma-theta in the North Pacific are sea-ice formation and vertical mixing, the latter primarily in the Kuril Straits. A simple calculation shows that most of the low salinity influence at these densities in the North Pacific can originate in the Okhotsk Sea and that vertical mixing in the open North Pacific may be much less important than previously thought.