Journal of Oceanography, (in press)

Seasonal Variations of Water Masses and Sea Level in the Southwestern Part of the Okhotsk Sea

Motoyo Itoh1 and Kay I. Ohshima2

1Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
2Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0819, Japan

(Received 26 August 1999; in revised form 19 April 2000; accepted 13 June 2000)


A new grid data set for the southwestern part of the Okhotsk Sea was compiled by using all the available hydrographic data from the Japan Oceanographic Data Center, World Ocean Atlas 1994 and the other additional data sources with the resolution of about 10 km. We examine the seasonal variations of areas and volumes of Soya Warm Current Water (SWCW) and East Sakhalin Current Water (ESCW) and show that the exchanges of these water masses drastically occur in April and November. The peculiar variation of sea level in this region is also related with the water mass exchange. Sea level at the Hokkaido coast of the Okhotsk Sea reaches its minimum in April about two months later than in the case of ordinary mid-latitude ocean, and its maximum in December besides the summer peak. The winter peak of sea level in December is caused by the advent of fresh and cold ESCW which is accumulated at the subsurface layers (20-150 m) through the Ekman convergence by the prevailing northerly wind. Sea level minimum in April is caused by the release of the convergence and the recovery of dense SWCW that is saline and much colder than that in summer.