To investigate the interannual variability in the northwestern Pacific, an empirical mode decomposition (EMD) was applied to 17-year Absolute Dynamic Topography (ADT) data west of Luzon Island, the Philippines. The mean sea surface height in this area is an appropriate index for the Kuroshio intrusion into the South China Sea (SCS). Significant interannual fluctuations were extracted by the EMD. The interannual variability was strongly correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) index, but not the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This indicated the potential impact of the PDO on the circulation in the area. In the warm phase of the PDO (positive index), a southerly anomalous wind off the Philippines causes a northward shift of the North Equatorial Current Bifurcation Latitude (NECBL). This leads to a weakened Kuroshio off Luzon, favoring Kuroshio intrusion into the SCS. The northward migration of the NECBL also results in a weakened Kuroshio off southeast Taiwan and a larger Kuroshio transport off northeast Taiwan. The abundant westward propagating eddies impinging on the Kuroshio in the Subtropical Countercurrent region increases this transport. Although the ENSO has little effect on monsoonal winds during the warm PDO phase, it has a strong impact on the monsoon and meridional migration of the NECBL during the cold phase of the PDO. Therefore, NECBL variations only show a close correspondence with the ENSO during the cold PDO phase. Because the influence of the ENSO is not stationary, the impact of the PDO should be taken into account when examining interannual variability in the low-latitude western North Pacific.
ASJC Scopus subject areas