Observed cold filaments associated with mesoscale eddies in the South China Sea

Jiaxun Li, Guihua Wang, Xiaoming Zhai

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Unusual cold filaments are uncovered during the spring intermonsoon season in the South China Sea (SCS) using a suite of satellite observations. They have a width of about 100 km on average and extend several hundreds of kilometers offshore on the sea surface, providing significant cross-shelf transport of heat and nutrients. The eastward current associated with mesoscale eddies in spring in the western SCS is found to play an important role in the filament formation by advecting coastal cold waters far offshore. The meridional location of the cold filament displays considerable interannual variability ranging between 9oN and 18oN, which can be attributed to the interannual south-north shift of the eastward current associated with eddies. It is also found that in the spring, cold filaments have profound effects on the chlorophyll a concentration in the upper ocean and the overlying atmosphere. These findings provide new insights into the role of eddies in cross-shelf exchange and mesoscale air-sea interaction in the marginal seas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762–770
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Oceans
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • cold filament
  • eddy
  • South China Sea

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