Physical and geographical origins of the South China Sea Warm Current

Tzu Ling Chiang, Chau Ron Wu*, Shenn Yu Chao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the formation mechanism of the South China Sea Warm Current in winter, using a high-resolution, numerical model. The current, noted for its ability to flow against the prevailing northeast monsoon in winter, has received considerable attentions in recent years. The collective wisdom from previous models points to two likely generation scenarios: occasional wind relaxation or the Kuroshio intrusion. The present model consistently points to the wind relaxation as the dominant mechanism. When comparing differences between previous models and ours, we also conclude that the Kuroshio intrusion helps, but is not chiefly responsible. Tracing the current to the source, we identify the elevated sea level in the Gulf of Tonkin, induced by the northeast monsoon, as the ultimate driving force. The presence of Hainan Island bears little importance in generating the current.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC08028
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 8

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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