We have constructed a fine-resolution model with realistic bathymetry to study the spatial and temporal variations of circulation in the Taiwan Strait (TS). The TS model with a resolution of 3∼10 km derives its open boundary conditions from a larger-scale model. The QSCAT/NCEP winds and AVHRR SST provide forcing at the sea surface. Because of the high resolution in model grids and forcing, the model achieves a previously unavailable level of agreement with most observations. On biweekly time scales surface-trapped current reversals often lead to Strait transport reversals if the northeasterly wind bursts in winter are sufficiently strong. On seasonal time scales the northward current is the strongest in summer since both summer monsoon and pressure gradient force are northward. The summer northward current appears to be relatively unimpeded by the Changyun Rise (CYR) and bifurcates slightly near the surface. With the arrival of the northeast monsoon in fall, downwind movement of China Coastal Water (CCW) is blocked by the northward current near 25.5°N and 120°E. In winter, the northward current weakens even more as the northeasterly monsoon strengthens. The CCW moves downwind along the western boundary; the CYR blocks part of the CCW and forces a U-shaped flow pattern in the northern Strait. Past studies have failed to reveal an anticyclonic eddy that develops on the northern flank of CYR in winter. On interannual time scales a weakened northeast monsoon during El Niño reduces advection of the cold CCW from the north and enhances intrusion of warm water from the south, resulting in warming in the TS.
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