Possible Influences of ENSO on Winter Shipping in the North Pacific

Abstract

Possible influences of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on winter shipping in the North Pacific (NP) are investigated using marine observations contained in the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS). Shipping frequency is interpreted using the number of ship reports accumulated in each 2° × 2° box-space throughout the winter season. Analyses reveal that shipping across the NP follows major "great circle" routes from the South China Sea (SCS) along the coasts of East Asia and Japan before heading eastward along the open ocean north of the Aleutian Islands toward the western coasts of North America. The above routes are shorter in navigational distance and avoid strong winds and high waves in the regions south of the Aleutian Islands caused by the Aleutian low.

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