Based on recent satellite observations, we hypothesize that there exists a significant air-sea interaction at the shelf-break front in the East China Sea. An idealized ocean-atmosphere coupled model was designed to test this hypothesis and to study the physical processes involved in such an interaction, with emphasis on the oceanic part. A positive feedback between ocean and atmosphere was identified in the model and its consequences were evaluated. We found that air-sea interaction, when combined with sloping topography, could provide a mechanism for the genesis of the shelf-break front. The resulting frontal circulation and vertical mixing could bring nutrient-rich subsurface water into the surface euphotic zone, thus making the frontal region a conspicuous place for primary production.
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