In winter, a branch of the China Coastal Current can turn in the Taiwan Strait to join the poleward-flowing Taiwan Coastal Current. The associated cross-strait flows have been inferred from hydrographic and satellite data, from observed abundances off northwestern Taiwan of cold-water copepod species Calanus sinicus and, in late March of 2012, also from debris found along the northwestern shore of Taiwan of a ship that broke two weeks earlier off the coast of China. The dynamics related to such cross flows have not been previously explained and are the focus of this study using analytical and numerical models. It is shown that the strait's currents can be classified into three regimes depending on the strength of the winter monsoon: equatorward (poleward) for northeasterly winds stronger (weaker) than an upper (lower) bound and cross-strait flows for relaxing northeasterly winds between the two bounds. These regimes are related to the formation of the stationary Rossby wave over the Changyun Ridge off midwestern Taiwan. In the weak (strong) northeasterly wind regime, a weak (no) wave is produced. In the relaxing wind regime, cross-strait currents are triggered by an imbalance between the pressure gradient and wind and are amplified by the finite-amplitude meander downstream of the ridge where a strong cyclone develops.
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