Deep Convection Along the Continental Slope in the East/Japan Sea: A Large-Eddy Simulation Study

Bong Gwan Kim, Yang Ki Cho, Yign Noh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sparse observations in the East/Japan Sea (EJS) suggested that open-ocean deep convection occurs south of Vladivostok; however, more recent observations suggest that deep convection occurs along the continental slope, resulting in bottom water formation in the EJS. We investigated the process of deep convection along the EJS continental slope using large-eddy simulation (LES), which demonstrated that dense water, formed by strong wintertime cooling in the shelf, flows down along the slope as a bottom Ekman current. The characteristics of the initial dense water were relatively well conserved on the continental slope during convection, but they changed rapidly by mixing with the surrounding waters in the open ocean. Accordingly, slope convection penetrated deeper compared to open-ocean convection under the same surface heat flux. Our numerical experiments showed that, under typical surface cooling during winter (i.e., 200 W m–2), slope convection reaches depths greater than 2,700 m, generating a potential ventilation process for deep- and bottom-water formations, whereas open-ocean convection reaches approximately 700 m depth, contributing to the intermediate- and central-water formations in the EJS. Various topography experiments revealed that downward speed was proportional to the continental-slope inclination; the initial characteristics remained relatively well conserved at a small continental-slope inclination. Increased salinity due to brine rejection in the shelf could accelerate the slope convection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number824256
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 28

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was a part of the project titled “Deep Water Circulation and Material Cycling in the East Sea (20160400),” funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Kim, Cho and Noh.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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