Abstract The interannual variability of intrusions of the Kuroshio into the South China Sea (SCS) is investigated using satellite remote sensing data supported by in-situ measurements. The mesoscale circulation of the SCS is predominantly wind-forced by the northeast winter and southwest summer monsoons. Although the region has been studied extensively, considerable uncertainty remains about the annual and interannual mesoscale nature of the circulation. The frequency and characteristics of Kuroshio intrusions and their effect on circulation patterns in the northeast SCS are also not well understood. Satellite observations of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA) from TOPEX/ Poseidon for the period 1997–2005 are used here to analyze the annual and interannual variability in Kuroshio intrusions and their effects on the region. Analysis of SST and SSHA shows the formation and characteristics of intrusions vary considerably each year. Typically, the intrusion occurs in the central region of Luzon Strait and results in an anticyclonic circulation in the northeastern SCS. However, in some years, the intrusion is located in the northern portion of Luzon Strait and a cyclonic intrusion results. Wind stress and wind stress curl derived from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) QuikSCAT satellite scatterometer are used to evaluate the relationship between wind stress or wind stress curl and the presence of winter Kuroshio intrusions into the SCS.
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