The Kuroshio Extension and its recirculation gyres

Steven R. Jayne, Nelson G. Hogg, Stephanie N. Waterman, Luc Rainville, Kathleen A. Donohue, D. Randolph Watts, Karen L. Tracey, Julie L. McClean, Mathew E. Maltrud, Bo Qiu, Shuiming Chen, Peter Hacker

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This paper reports on the strength and structure of the Kuroshio Extension and its recirculation gyres. In the time average, quasi-permanent recirculation gyres are found to the north and south of the Kuroshio Extension jet. The characteristics of these recirculations gyres are determined from the combined observations from the Kuroshio Extension System Study (KESS) field program (June 2004-June 2006) and include current meters, pressure and current recording inverted echo sounders, and subsurface floats. The position and strength of the recirculation gyres simulated by a high-resolution numerical model are found to be consistent with the observations. The circulation pattern that is revealed is of a complex system of multiple recirculation gyres that are embedded in the crests and troughs of the quasi-permanent meanders of the Kuroshio Extension. At the location of the KESS array, the Kuroshio Extension jet and its recirculation gyres transport of about 114 Sv. This represents a 2.7-fold increase in the transport of the current compared to the Kuroshio's transport at Cape Ashizuri before it separates from the coast and flows eastward into the open ocean. This enhancement in the current's transport comes from the development of the flanking recirculation gyres. Estimates from an array of inverted echo sounders and a high-resolution ocean general circulation model are of similar magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2088-2099
Number of pages12
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Current meter
  • Floats
  • Inverted echo sounders
  • Kuroshio
  • Recirculation
  • Western boundary currents


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