Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 26 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 26, No. 1
Pages 66 - 79


Structure and Evolution of the Cold Dome off Northeastern Taiwan: A Numerical Study

By Ganesh Gopalakrishnan , Bruce D. Cornuelle , Glen Gawarkiewicz, and Julie L. McClean  
Jump to
Article Abstract Citation References Copyright & Usage
Article Abstract

Numerous observational and modeling studies of ocean circulation surrounding Taiwan have reported occurrences of cold water and doming of isotherms (called the cold dome) that result in the formation of coastal upwelling on the northeastern Taiwan shelf. We use a high-resolution (1/24°) ocean model based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model to study the evolution of this distinct shelf-slope circulation phenomenon. We performed a number of model simulations spanning a five-year period (2004–2008) using realistic atmospheric forcing and initial and open boundary conditions. The model solutions were compared with satellite measurements of sea surface height (SSH), sea surface temperature (SST), and historical temperature and salinity observations. The model showed a realistically shaped cold dome with a diameter of ~ 100 km and temperature of ~ 3°C below the ambient shelf waters at 50 m depth. The occurrences of simulated cold dome events appeared to be connected with the seasonal variability of the Kuroshio Current. The model simulations showed more upwelling events during spring and summer when the core of the Kuroshio tends to migrate away from the east coast of Taiwan, compared to fall and winter when the core of the Kuroshio is generally found closer to the east coast of Taiwan. The model also reproduced weak cyclonic circulation associated with the upwelling off northeastern Taiwan. We analyzed the spatio-temporal variability of the cold dome using the model solution as a proxy and designed a “cold dome index” based on the temperature at 50 m depth averaged over a 0.5° × 0.5° box centered at 25.5°N, 122°E. The cold dome index correlates with temperature at 50 m depth in a larger region, suggesting the spatial extent of the cold dome phenomenon. The index had correlation maxima of 0.78 and 0.40 for simulated SSH and SST, respectively, in and around the cold dome box region, and we hypothesize that it is a useful indicator of upwelling off northeastern Taiwan. In addition, both correlation and composite analysis between the temperature at 50 m depth and the East Taiwan Channel transport showed no cold dome events during low-transport events (often in winter) and more frequent cold dome events during high-transport events (often in summer). The simulated cold dome events had time scales of about two weeks, and their centers aligned roughly along a northeastward line starting from the northeastern tip of Taiwan.


Gopalakrishnan, G., B.D. Cornuelle, G. Gawarkiewicz, and J.L. McClean. 2013. Structure and evolution of the cold dome off northeastern Taiwan: A numerical study. Oceanography 26(1):66–79, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2013.06.


Atkinson, L. 1977. Modes of Gulf Stream intrusion into the South Atlantic Bight shelf waters. Geophysical Research Letters 4(12):583–586, https://doi.org/10.1029/GL004i012p00583.

Blanton, J., L. Atkinson, L. Pietrafesa, and T. Lee. 1981. The intrusion of Gulf Stream water across the continental shelf due to topographically-induced upwelling. Deep Sea Research Part A 28(4):393–405, https://doi.org/10.1016/0198-0149(81)90006-6.

Centurioni, L., P. Niiler, and D. Lee. 2004. Observations of inflow of Philippine Sea surface water into the South China Sea through the Luzon strait. Journal of Physical Oceanography 34(1):113–121, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2004)034<0113:OOIOPS>2.0.CO;2.

Centurioni, L., P. Niiler, and D. Lee. 2009. Near-surface circulation in the South China Sea during the winter monsoon. Geophysical Research Letters 36, L06605, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008GL037076.

Chang, Y., H. Liao, M. Lee, J. Chan, W. Shieh, K. Lee, G. Wang, and Y. Lan. 2008. Multisatellite observation on upwelling after the passage of Typhoon Hai-Tang in the southern East China Sea. Geophysical Research Letters 35, L03612, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL032858.

Chang, Y., C. Wu, and L. Oey. 2009. Bimodal behavior of the seasonal upwelling off the northeastern coast of Taiwan. Journal of Geophysical Research 114, C03027, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JC005131.

Chao, S. 1990. Circulation of the East China Sea: A numerical study. Journal of Oceanography 46(6):273–295, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02123503.

Chassignet, E., H. Hurlburt, O. Smedstad, G. Halliwell, P. Hogan, A. Wallcraft, R. Baraille, and R. Bleck. 2007. The HYCOM (HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model) data assimilative system. Journal of Marine Systems 65(1–4):60–83, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2005.09.016.

Chen, C. 1996. The Kuroshio intermediate water is the major source of nutrients on the East China Sea continental shelf. Oceanologica Acta 19(5):523–528.

Chen, C., C. Liu, W. Chuang, Y. Yang, F. Shiah, T. Tang, and S. Chung. 2003. Enhanced buoyancy and hence upwelling of subsurface Kuroshio waters after a typhoon in the southern East China Sea. Journal of Marine Systems 42(1):65–79, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0924-7963(03)00065-4.

Cheng, Y., C. Ho, Z. Zheng, Y. Lee, and N. Kuo. 2009. An algorithm for cold patch detection in the sea off northeast Taiwan using multi-sensor data. Sensors 9(7):5,521–5,533, https://doi.org/10.3390/s90705521.

Chern, C., and J. Wang. 1989. On the water masses at northern offshore area of Taiwan. Acta Oceanographica Taiwanica 22:14–32.

Chern, C., J. Wang, and D. Wang. 1990. The exchange of Kuroshio and East China Sea shelf water. Journal of Geophysical Research 95(C9):16,017–16,023, https://doi.org/10.1029/JC095iC09p16017.

Edwards, C., T. Fake, and P. Bogden. 2004a. Spring-summer frontogenesis at the mouth of Block Island Sound: 1. A numerical investigation into tidal and buoyancy-forced motion. Journal of Geophysical Research 109, C12021, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003JC002132.

Edwards, C., T. Fake, D. Codiga, and P. Bogden. 2004b. Spring-summer frontogenesis at the mouth of Block Island Sound: 2. Combining acoustic Doppler current profiler records with a general circulation model to investigate the impact of subtidal forcing. Journal of Geophysical Research 109, C12022, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003JC002133.

Fan, K. 1980. On upwelling off northeastern shore of Taiwan. Acta Oceanographica Taiwanica 11:105–117.

Gawarkiewicz, G., S. Jan, P.F.J. Lermusiaux, J.L. McClean, L. Centurioni, K. Taylor, B. Cornuelle, T.F. Duda, J. Wang, Y.J. Yang, and others. 2011. Circulation and intrusions northeast of Taiwan: Chasing and predicting uncertainty in the cold dome. Oceanography 24(4):110–121, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2011.99.

Hsin, Y., T. Chiang, and C. Wu. 2011. Fluctuations of the thermal fronts off northeastern Taiwan. Journal of Geophysical Research 116, C10005, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011JC007066.

Hsin, Y., C. Wu, and P. Shaw. 2008. Spatial and temporal variations of the Kuroshio east of Taiwan, 1982–2005: A numerical study. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, C04002, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007JC004485.

Hsueh, Y., J. Wang, and C. Chern. 1992. The intrusion of the Kuroshio across the continental shelf northeast of Taiwan. Journal of Geophysical Research 97(C9):14,323– 14,330, https://doi.org/10.1029/92JC01401.

Jan, S., C.-C. Chen, Y.-L. Tsai, Y.J. Yang, J. Wang, C.-S. Chern, G. Gawarkiewicz, R.-C. Lien, L. Centurioni, and J.-Y. Kuo. 2011. Mean structure and variability of the cold dome northeast of Taiwan. Oceanography 24(4):100–109, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2011.98.

Jan, S., C. Chern, J. Wang, and S. Chao. 2004. The anomalous amplification of M2 tide in the Taiwan Strait. Geophysical Research Letters 31, L07308, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003GL019373.

Johns, W., T. Lee, D. Zhang, R. Zantopp, C. Liu, and Y. Yang. 2001. The Kuroshio east of Taiwan: Moored transport observations from the WOCE PCM-1 array. Journal of Physical Oceanography 31(4):1,031–1,053, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2001)031<1031:TKEOTM>2.0.CO;2.

Kalnay, E., M. Kanamitsu, R. Kistler, W. Collins, D. Deaven, L. Gandin, M. Iredell, S. Saha, G. White, J. Woollen, and others. 1996. The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 77:437–471, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1996)077<0437:TNYRP>2.0.CO;2.

Kim, Y., T. Qu, T. Jensen, T. Miyama, H. Mitsudera, H. Kang, and A. Ishida. 2004. Seasonal and interannual variations of the North Equatorial Current bifurcation in a high-resolution OGCM. Journal of Geophysical Research 109, C03040, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003JC002013.

Large, W., and S. Pond. 1981. Open ocean momentum flux measurements in moderate to strong winds. Journal of Physical Oceanography 11(3):324–336, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1981)011<0324:OOMFMI>2.0.CO;2.

Large, W., J. McWilliams, and S. Doney. 1994. Oceanic vertical mixing: A review and a model with a nonlocal boundary layer parameterization. Reviews of Geophysics 32:363–403, https://doi.org/10.1029/94RG01872.

Lee, H., and S. Chao. 2003. A climatological description of circulation in and around the East China Sea. Deep Sea Research Part II 50(6):1,065–1,084, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0645(03)00010-9.

Lee, T., W. Johns, C. Liu, D. Zhang, R. Zantopp, and Y. Yang. 2001. Mean transport and seasonal cycle of the Kuroshio east of Taiwan with comparison to the Florida current. Journal of Geophysical Research 106(C10):22,143–22,158, https://doi.org/10.1029/2000JC000535.

Legg, S., R. Hallberg, and J. Girton. 2006. Comparison of entrainment in overflows simulated by z-coordinate, isopycnal and non-hydrostatic models. Ocean Modelling 11:69–97, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocemod.2004.11.006.

Lermusiaux, P., J. Xu, C. Chen, S. Jan, L. Chiu, and Y. Yang. 2010. Coupled ocean-acoustic prediction of transmission loss in a continental shelfbreak region: Predictive skill, uncertainty quantification and dynamical sensitivities. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 35(4):895–916, https://doi.org/10.1109/JOE.2010.2068611.

Levitus, S., T. Boyer, M. Conkright, T. O’Brien, J. Antonov, C. Stephens, L. Stathoplos, D. Johnson, and R. Gelfeld. 1998. NOAA Atlas NESDIS 18, World Ocean Database 1998: Vol. 1. Introduction. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Liang, W., T. Tang, Y. Yang, M. Ko, and W. Chuang. 2003. Upper-ocean currents around Taiwan. Deep Sea Research Part II 50(6):1,085–1,105, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0645(03)00011-0.

Lin, C., C. Shyu, and W. Shih. 1992. The Kuroshio fronts and cold eddies off northeastern Taiwan observed by NOAA-AVHRR imageries. Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 3(3):225–242.

Liu, K., G. Gong, S. Lin, C. Yang, C. Wei, S. Pai, and C. Wu. 1992b. The year-round upwelling at the shelf break near the northern tip of Taiwan as evidenced by chemical hydrography. Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 3(3):243–275.

Liu, K., G. Gong, C. Shyu, S. Pai, C. Wei, and S. Chao. 1992a. Response of Kuroshio upwelling to the onset of the northeast monsoon in the sea north of Taiwan: Observations and a numerical simulation. Journal of Geophysical Research 97(C8):12,511–12,526, https://doi.org/10.1029/92JC01179.

Marshall, J., A. Adcroft, C. Hill, L. Perelman, and C. Heisey. 1997. A finite-volume, incompressible Navier Stokes model for studies of the ocean on parallel computers. Journal of Geophysical Research 102(C3):5,753–5,766, https://doi.org/10.1029/96JC02775.

Morimoto, A., S. Kojima, S. Jan, and D. Takahashi. 2009. Movement of the Kuroshio axis to the northeast shelf of Taiwan during typhoon events. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 82(3):547–552, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2009.02.022.

Niiler, P. 2001. The world ocean surface circulation. International Geophysics 77:193–204.

Qiu, B., and R. Lukas. 1996. Seasonal and interannual variability of the North Equatorial Current, the Mindanao current, and the Kuroshio along the Pacific western boundary. Journal of Geophysical Research 101(C5):12,315–12,330, https://doi.org/10.1029/95JC03204.

Qu, T., and R. Lukas. 2003. The bifurcation of the North Equatorial Current in the Pacific. Journal of Physical Oceanography 33(1):5–18, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2003)033<0005:TBOTNE>2.0.CO;2.

Rudnick, D.L., S. Jan, L. Centurioni, C.M. Lee, R.-C. Lien, J. Wang, D.-K. Lee, R.-S. Tseng, Y.Y. Kim, and C.-S. Chern. 2011. Seasonal and mesoscale variability of the Kuroshio near its origin. Oceanography 24(4):52–63, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2011.94.

Shen, M., Y. Tseng, and S. Jan. 2011. The formation and dynamics of the cold-dome off northeastern Taiwan. Journal of Marine Systems 86(1):10–27, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.01.002.

Stammer, D., C. Wunsch, R. Giering, C. Eckert, P. Heimbach, J. Marotzke, A. Adcroft, C. Hill, and J. Marshall. 2002. Global ocean circulation during 1992–1997, estimated from ocean observations and a general circulation model. Journal of Geophysical Research 107(C9), 3118, https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JC000888.

Sun, X. 1987. Analysis of the surface path of the Kuroshio in the East China Sea. Pp. 1–14 in Essays on the Investigation of Kuroshio. Ocean Press, Beijing.

Tang, T., Y. Hsueh, Y. Yang, and J. Ma. 1999. Continental slope flow northeast of Taiwan. Journal of Physical Oceanography 29(6):1,353–1,362, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1999)029<1353:CSFNOT>2.0.CO;2.

Tang, T., J. Tai, and Y. Yang. 2000. The flow pattern north of Taiwan and the migration of the Kuroshio. Continental Shelf Research 20(4):349–371, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-4343(99)00076-X.

Tsai, Y., C. Chern, and J. Wang. 2008. Typhoon induced upper ocean cooling off northeastern Taiwan. Geophysical Research Letters 35, L14605, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008GL034368.

Tseng, R., and Y. Shen. 2003. Lagrangian observations of surface flow patterns in the vicinity of Taiwan. Deep Sea Research Part II 50(6):1,107–1,115, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0645(03)00012-2.

Wu, C., H. Lu, and S. Chao. 2008. A numerical study on the formation of upwelling off northeast Taiwan. Journal of Geophysical Research 113, C08025, https://doi.org/10.1029/2007JC004697.

Zhang, D., T. Lee, W. Johns, C. Liu, and R. Zantopp. 2001. The Kuroshio east of Taiwan: Modes of variability and relationship to interior ocean mesoscale eddies. Journal of Physical Oceanography 31(4):1,054–1,074, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(2001)031<1054:TKEOTM>2.0.CO;2.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.