Date of Original Version
Current and temperature patterns in the Ulleung Basin of the Japan/East Sea are examined using acoustic travel-time measurements from an array of pressure-gauge-equipped inverted echo sounders moored between June 1999 and July 2001. The focus here is the formation and behavior of a persistent cold eddy observed south of Dok Island, referred to as the Dok Cold Eddy (DCE), and meandering of the Subpolar Front. The DCE is typically about 60 km in diameter and originates from the pinching off of a Subpolar Front meander between Ulleung and Dok Islands. After formation, the DCE dwells southwest of Dok Island for 1–6 months before propagating westward toward Korea, where it deflects the path of the East Korean Warm Current (EKWC). Four such DCE propagation events between January and June 2000 each deflected the EKWC, and after the fourth deflection the EKWC changed paths and flowed westward along the Japanese shelf as the “Offshore Branch” from June through November 2000. Beginning in March 2001, a deep, persistent meander of the Subpolar Front developed and oscillated with a period near 60 days, resulting in the deformation and northwestward displacement of the Ulleung Eddy. Satellite-altimeter data suggest that the Ulleung Eddy may have entered the northern Japan/East Sea. The evolution of this meander is compared with thin-jet nonlinear dynamics described by the modified Korteweg–deVries equation.