Journal Article Hydrographic observations by instrumented marine mammals in the Sea of Okhotsk

13pp.56 - 65 , 2017-09
The Sea of Okhotsk is a challenging environment for obtaining in situ data and satellite observation in winter due to sea ice cover. In this study, we evaluated the validity of hydrographic observations by marine mammals (e.g., seals and sea lions) equipped with oceanographic conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensors. During 4-yr operations from 2011 to 2014, we obtained total of 997 temperature-salinity profiles in and around the Soya Strait, Iony Island, and Urup Strait. The hydrographic data were mainly obtained from May to August and the maximum profile depth in shelf regions almost reaches to the seafloor, while valuable hydrographic data under sea ice cover were also obtained. In strong thermoclines, the seal-derived data sometimes showed positive biases in salinity with spike-like signal. For these salinity biases, we applied a new thermal mass inertia correction scheme, effectively reducing spurious salinity biases in the seasonal thermocline. In the Soya Strait and the adjacent region, the detailed structure of the Soya Warm Current including the cold-water belt was well identified. Dense water up to 27.0σθ, which can be a potential source of Okhotsk Sea Intermediate Water, has flowed from the Soya Strait into the Sea of Okhotsk in mid-winter (February). In summer, around the Iony Island and Urup Strait, remarkable cold and saline waters are localized in the surface layers. These regions are also characterized by weak stratification, suggesting the occurrence of tidally induced vertical mixing. Thus, CTD-tag observations have a great potential in monitoring data-sparse regions in the Sea of Okhotsk.

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