SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 60 , Issue 7 : 1356-1367(2017) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-016-9039-7

Dissolved barium as a tracer of Kuroshio incursion in the Kuroshio region east of Taiwan Island and the adjacent East China Sea

Wei LIU 1,2,3, JinMing SONG 1,2,4,*, HuaMao YUAN 1,2,4, Ning LI 1,2,4, XueGang LI 1,2,4, LiQin DUAN 1,2,4
More info
  • ReceivedFeb 6, 2017
  • AcceptedMar 22, 2017
  • PublishedMay 10, 2017


From May to June 2014, the geochemical characteristics of dissolved barium (Ba) in sea water and its influx from the Kuroshio into the East China Sea (ECS) were studied by investigation of the Kuroshio mainstream east of Taiwan Island and the adjacent ECS. This allowed for the scope and extent of the Kuroshio incursion to be quantitatively described for the first time by using Ba as a tracer. The concentration of Ba in the Kuroshio mainstream increased gradually downward from the surface in the range 4.91–19.2 μg L−1. In the surface layer of the ECS, the Ba concentration was highest in coastal water and gradually decreased seaward, while it was higher in coastal and offshore water but lowest in middle shelf for bottom layer. The influx of Ba from Kuroshio into the ECS during May to October was calculated to be 2.19×108 kg by a water exchange model, in which the subsurface layer had the largest portion. The distribution of Ba indicated that Kuroshio upwelled in the sea area northeast of Taiwan Island. The north-flowing water in the Taiwan Strait restrained the incursion of Kuroshio surface water onto the ECS shelf, while Kuroshio subsurface water gradually affected the bottom of the ECS from outside. The results of end member calculation, using Ba as a parameter, showed that the Kuroshio surface water had little impact on the ECS, while the Kuroshio subsurface water formed an intrusion current by climbing northwest along the bottom of the middle shelf from the sea area northeast of Taiwan Island into the Qiantang Estuary, of which the volume of Kuroshio water was nearly 65%. Kuroshio water was the predominant part of the water on the outer shelf bottom and its proportion in areas deeper than the 100 m isobath could reach more than 95%. In the DH9 section (north of Taiwan Island), Kuroshio subsurface water intruded westward along the bottom from the shelf edge and then rose upward (in lower proportion). Kuroshio water accounted for 95% of the ocean volume could reach as far as 122°E. Ba was able to provide detailed tracing of the Kuroshio incursion into the ECS owing to its geochemical characteristics and became an effective tracer for revealing quantitative interactions between the Kuroshio and the ECS.

Funded by

Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA11020102)

Aoshan Talents Program(2015ASTP-OS13)

Scientific and Technological Innovation Project(2016ASKJ14)

Joint Fund of Shandong Province and National Natural Science Foundation of China(U1406403)


This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA11020102), the Aoshan Talents Program (Grant No. 2015ASTP-OS13) and the Scientific and Technological Innovation Project (Grant No. 2016ASKJ14) Financially Supported by Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, and Joint Fund of Shandong Province and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. U1406403).


[1] Atkinson L P. 2010. Western boundary currents. In: Carbon and Nutrient Fluxes in Continental Margins. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. 121–169. Google Scholar

[2] Bruland K W. 1983. Trace elements in sea water. In: Riley J, Chester R, eds. Chemical Oceanography. London: Academic Press. 8: 157–220. Google Scholar

[3] Cao Z M, Siebert C, Hathorne E C, Dai M H, Frank M. Constraining the oceanic barium cycle with stable barium isotopes. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 2016, 434: 1-9 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[4] Cardinal D, Savoye N, Trull T W, André L, Kopczynska E E, Dehairs F. Variations of carbon remineralisation in the Southern Ocean illustrated by the Baxs proxy. Deep-Sea Res Part I-Oceanogr Res Pap, 2005, 52: 355-370 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[5] Chen C T A. 1996. The Kuroshio intermediate water is the major source of nutrients on the East China Sea continental shelf. Oceanol Acta, 19: 523–527. Google Scholar

[6] Chen C T A. Response to Liu's comments on “The Kuroshio intermediate water is the major source of nutrients on the East China Sea continental shelf” by Chen (1996). Oceanol Acta, 1998, 21: 713-716 CrossRef Google Scholar

[7] Chen C T A. Chemical and physical fronts in the Bohai, Yellow and East China seas. J Mar Syst, 2009, 78: 394-410 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[8] Chen C T A, Ruo R, Paid S C, Liu C T, Wong G T F. Exchange of water masses between the East China Sea and the Kuroshio off northeastern Taiwan. Cont Shelf Res, 1995, 15: 19-39 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[9] Chen C T A, Wang S L. Carbon, alkalinity and nutrient budgets on the East China Sea continental shelf. J Geophys Res, 1999, 104: 20675-20686 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[10] Chen C T A, Wang S L, Chou W C, Sheu D D. Carbonate chemistry and projected future changes in pH and CaCO3 saturation state of the South China Sea. Mar Chem, 2006, 101: 277-305 CrossRef Google Scholar

[11] Dehairs F, Chesselet R, Jedwab J. Discrete suspended particles of barite and the barium cycle in the open ocean. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 1980, 49: 528-550 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[12] Falkner K K, Mac Donald R W, Carmack E C, Weingartner T. 1994. The potential of barium as a tracer of Arctic water masses. In: Johannessen O M, Muench R D, Overland J E, eds. The Polar Oceans and Their Role in Shaping the Global Environment. Washington D C: American Geophysical Union. 63–76. Google Scholar

[13] Fukudome K I, Yoon J H, Ostrovskii A, Takikawa T, Han I S. Seasonal volume transport variation in the Tsushima Warm Current through the Tsushima Straits from 10 years of ADCP observations. J Oceanogr, 2010, 66: 539-551 CrossRef Google Scholar

[14] Ganeshram R S, François R, Commeau J, Brown-Leger S L. An experimental investigation of barite formation in seawater. Geochim Cosmochim Acta, 2003, 67: 2599-2605 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[15] Guan B X, Fang G H. Winter counter-wind currents off the southeastern China coast: A review. J Oceanogr, 2006, 62: 1-24 CrossRef Google Scholar

[16] Guo B H, Hu X M, Xiong X J, Ge R F. 2003. Study on interaction between the coastal water, shelf water and Kuroshio water in the Huanghai Sea and East China Sea. Acta Oceanol Sin, 3: 351–367. Google Scholar

[17] Guo J S, Hu X M, Yuan Y L. 2005. A diagnostic analysis of variations in volume transport through the Taiwan Strait using satellite altimeter data (in Chinese with English abstract). Adv Mar Sci, 1: 20–26. Google Scholar

[18] Guo X Y, Zhu X H, Wu Q S, Huang D J. The Kuroshio nutrient stream and its temporal variation in the East China Sea. J Geophys Res, 2012, 117: C01026 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[19] Hong G H, Zhang J, Chung C S. 2002. Impact of Interface Exchange on the Biogeochemical processes of the Yellow and East China seas. Seoul: Bumshin Press. 85–49. Google Scholar

[20] Hoppema M, Dehairs F, Navez J, Monnin C, Jeandel C, Fahrbach E, de Baar H J W. Distribution of barium in the Weddell Gyre: Impact of circulation and biogeochemical processes. Mar Chem, 2010, 122: 118-129 CrossRef Google Scholar

[21] Horner T J, Kinsley C W, Nielsen S G. Barium-isotopic fractionation in seawater mediated by barite cycling and oceanic circulation. Earth Planet Sci Lett, 2015, 430: 511-522 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[22] Hsueh Y. The Kuroshio in the East China Sea. J Mar Syst, 2000, 24: 131-139 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[23] Jeandel C, Dupré B, Lebaron G, Monnin C, Minster J F. Longitudinal distributions of dissolved barium, silica and alkalinity in the western and southern Indian Ocean. Deep-Sea Res Part I-Oceanogr Res Pap, 1996, 43: 1-31 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[24] Li H M, Shi X Y, Wang H, Han X R. An estimation of nutrient fluxes to the East China Sea continental shelf from the Taiwan Strait and Kuroshio subsurface waters in summer. Acta Oceanol Sin, 2014, 33: 1-10 CrossRef Google Scholar

[25] Lin I T, Wang C H, You C F, Lin S, Huang K F, Chen Y G. Deep submarine groundwater discharge indicated by tracers of oxygen, strontium isotopes and barium content in the Pingtung coastal zone, southern Taiwan. Mar Chem, 2010, 122: 51-58 CrossRef Google Scholar

[26] Lin K, Chen Z S, Guo B H, TangY X. 1995. Seasonal transport and exchange between the KuroShio water and shelf water (in Chinese with English abstract). J Oceanogr Huanghai-Bohai Seas, 4: 1–8. Google Scholar

[27] Liu X H, Chen D K, Dong C M, He H L. Variation of the Kuroshio intrusion pathways northeast of Taiwan using the Lagrangian method. Sci China Earth Sci, 2016, 59: 268-280 CrossRef Google Scholar

[28] Lu X, Song J M, Yuan H M, Li N, Li X G, Duan L Q, Qu B X. 2016. Distribution of inorganic carbon parameters in Kuroshio and its impact on adjacent East China Sea shelf (in Chinese with English abstract). Oceanol Limnol Sin, 1: 16–28. Google Scholar

[29] Miller A R. 1950. A study ofmixing processes over the edge of thecontinental shelf. J Mar Res, 9: 145–160. Google Scholar

[30] Monnin C A. A thermodynamic model for the solubility of barite and celestite in electrolyte solutions and seawater to 200°C and to 1 kbar. Chem Geol, 1999, 153: 187-209 CrossRef Google Scholar

[31] Monnin C, Cividini D. The saturation state of the world’s ocean with respect to (Ba, Sr)SO4 solid solutions. Geochim Cosmochim Acta, 2006, 70: 3290-3298 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[32] Nozaki Y, Yamamoto Y, Manaka T, Amakawa H, Snidvongs A. Dissolved barium and radium isotopes in the Chao Phraya River estuarine mixing zone in Thailand. Cont Shelf Res, 2001, 21: 1435-1448 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[33] Paytan A, Griffith E M. Marine barite: Recorder of variations in ocean export productivity. Deep-Sea Res Part II-Top Stud Oceanogr, 2007, 54: 687-705 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[34] Qi J F, Yin B S, Zhang Q L, Yang D Z, Xu Z H. Analysis of seasonal variation of water masses in East China Sea. Chin J Ocean Limnol, 2014, 32: 958-971 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[35] Roeske T, Bauch D, Rutgers V.D. Loeff M, Rabe B. Utility of dissolved barium in distinguishing North American from Eurasian runoff in the Arctic Ocean. Mar Chem, 2012, 132-133: 1-14 CrossRef Google Scholar

[36] Singh S P, Singh S K, Bhushan R. Internal cycling of dissolved barium in water column of the Bay of Bengal. Mar Chem, 2013, 154: 12-23 CrossRef Google Scholar

[37] Sheu D D, Lee W Y, Wang C H, Wei C L, Chen C T A, Cherng C, Huang M H. Depth distribution of δ13C of dissolved ΣCO2 in seawater off eastern Taiwan: Effects of the Kuroshio current and its associated upwelling phenomenon. Cont Shelf Res, 1996, 16: 1609-1619 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[38] Song J M. 2010. Biogeochemical Processes of Biogenic Elements in China Marginal Seas. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. 39. Google Scholar

[39] The Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China. 2013. River sediment Bulletin of China. Beijing: China Water & Power Press. 4. Google Scholar

[40] Tomczak M. A multi-parameter extension of temperature/salinity diagram techniques for the analysis of non-isopycnal mixing. Prog Oceanogr, 1981, 10: 147-171 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[41] Wong G T F, Chao S Y, Li Y H, Shiah F K. The Kuroshio edge exchange processes (KEEP) study—An introduction to hypotheses and highlights. Cont Shelf Res, 2000, 20: 335-347 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[42] Wu B, Zhao D Y, Jia H Y, Zhang Y, Zhang X X, Cheng S P. Preliminary risk assessment of trace metal pollution in surface water from Yangtze River in Nanjing Section, China. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol, 2009, 82: 405-409 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar

[43] Yang D Z, Yin B S, Liu Z L, Feng X R. Numerical study of the ocean circulation on the East China Sea shelf and a Kuroshio bottom branch northeast of Taiwan in summer. J Geophys Res, 2011, 116: C05015 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[44] Yang D Z, Yin B S, Liu Z L, Bai T, Qi J F, Chen H Y. 2012.Numerical study on the pattern and origins of Kuroshio branches in the bottom water of southern East China Sea in summer. J Geophys Res, 117: 1–16. Google Scholar

[45] Zhang J, Liu S M, Ren J L, Wu Y, Zhang G L. Nutrient gradients from the eutrophic Changjiang (Yangtze River) Estuary to the oligotrophic Kuroshio waters and re-evaluation of budgets for the East China Sea Shelf. Prog Oceanogr, 2007, 74: 449-478 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[46] Zhang L, Liu Z, Zhang J, Hong G H, Park Y, Zhang H F. Reevaluation of mixing among multiple water masses in the shelf: An example from the East China Sea. Cont Shelf Res, 2007, 27: 1969-1979 CrossRef ADS Google Scholar

[47] Zhang Q H, Qu Y Y, Li J K, Yin X Q. A theoretical model for the intrusion of the Kuroshio across the continental shelf of East China Sea. Sci China Earth Sci, 2015, 58: 2289-2295 CrossRef Google Scholar

  • Figure 1

    Schematic diagram of sampling stations and water mass distribution. The blue area represents China Coastal Waters (CCW); the yellow area represents Taiwan Current Warm Water (TCWW); the purple area represents Shelf Vertical Mixed Water (SVMW); the green area represents Kuroshio Upwelling Water (KUW); the red area represents the Kuroshio mainstream.

  • Figure 2

    Temperature-salinity diagram for water of different sections.

  • Figure 3

    Vertical distribution of Ba in water of the Kuroshio mainstream.

  • Figure 4

    Correlations between Ba and Si (a), and Ba and pH (b) in the Kuroshio mainstream.

  • Figure 5

    Ba concentration in water of station TW0-1 and Kuroshio mainstream.

  • Figure 6

    Correlation between Ba and Chl a in surface water of the ECS.

  • Figure 7

    Plane distribution of Ba in water of the study area.

  • Figure 8

    Distribution of Ba in the water of section DH9.

  • Figure 9

    Proportion of Kuroshio water in the bottom layer of the ECS shelf.

  • Figure 10

    Proportion of Kuroshio water in section DH9.

  • Figure 11

    Correlation between the results of two sets of parameters.

  • Table 1   Concentration of dissolved Ba in sea areas worldwide

    Sea area


    Depth (m)

    Ba (μg L−1)


    Southern Indian Ocean

    1985-02–1985-03, 1986-03–1986-05, 1987-01–1987-02



    Jeandel et al. (1996)

    Southern Atlantic



    Horner et al. (2015)

    South China Sea




    Cao et al. (2016)

    Arctic Ocean




    Roeske et al. (2012)

    Weddell Gyre of Antarctic




    Hoppema et al. (2010)

    Bay of Bengal




    Singh et al. (2013)

  • Table 2   Budget of Ba and water transport in the ECS shelf area (May‒October, rainy season)

    Exchange items



    (kg m−3)

    Water flux


    Ba concentration

    (μg L−1)

    Ba flux

    (kg s−1)

    Ba flux in half year

    (×108kg/half year)


    Input items

    River (Changjiang River)




    Ministry of water resources of PRC (2013)

    Taiwan Strait water




    Guo et al. (2005)






















    Output items

    ECS shelf edge







    Tsushima Strait







    Fukudome et al. (2010)

    Exchange between the Yellow Sea and ECS




    Hong et al. (2002)

    Sv=106 m3 s−1; Output items marked as “‒”; Total days from May to October summed up as 184; Water flux of Taiwan Strait and Tsushima Strait was the average value from May to October

  • Table 3   Values of the parameters measured for each end member

    End member

    (Water mass)


    Temperature (°C)

    Ba (μg L−1)

















Copyright 2020  CHINA SCIENCE PUBLISHING & MEDIA LTD.  中国科技出版传媒股份有限公司  版权所有

京ICP备14028887号-23       京公网安备11010102003388号