Mapping circulation in the Kuroshio Extension with an array of current and pressure recording inverted echo sounders

Kathleen A. Donohue, D. Randolph Watts, Karen L. Tracey, Andrew D. Greene, Maureen Kennelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The Kuroshio Extension System Study (KESS) aimed to quantify processes governing the variability of and the interaction between the Kuroshio Extension and the recirculation gyre. To meet this goal, a suite of instrumentation, including 43 inverted echo sounders equipped with bottom pressure gauges and current meters [current and pressure recording inverted echo sounders (CPIES)], was deployed. The array was centered on the first quasi-stationary meander crest and trough east of Japan, which is also the region of highest eddy kinetic energy. KESS was the first experiment to deploy a large quantity of these new CPIES instruments, and it was unique in that the instruments were deployed in water depths (5300-6400 m) close to their limit of operation. A comprehensive narrative of the methodology to produce mesoscale-resolving fourdimensional circulation fields of temperature, specific volume anomaly, and velocity from the KESS CPIES array is provided. In addition, an improved technique for removing pressure drift is introduced. Methodology and error estimates were verified with several independent datasets. Temperature error was lowest on the equatorward side of the Kuroshio Extension core and decreased with depth (1.5°C at 300 m, 0.37deg;C at 600 m, and,0.18C below 1200 m). Velocity errors were highest in regions of strong eddy kinetic energy, within and south of the jet core. Near the surface, the error in geostrophic velocity between adjacent CPIES was typically 10cm s-1, decreasing downward to 6 cm s-1 at 500-m depth and 5 cm s-1 below 800 m. The rms differences from pointwise current measurements are nearly twice as large as the geostrophic errors, because the pointwise velocities include submesoscale and ageostrophic contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-527
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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