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(Huanghai), a half-enclosed sea of the Pacific Ocean on the eastern shores of Asia, west of the Korean Peninsula, located above a shallow, flattened area of the continental shelf.
On the south, the Yellow Sea borders on the East China Sea along the line formed by the southwestern tip of Korea, Cheju Island, and the continental shore north of the mouth of the Yangtze (Ch’angchiang). The sea’s area is 417,000 sq km; its average depth, 40 m; and its median volume of water, 17,000 cu km. Several major rivers flow into the Yellow Sea: the Huangho, Haiho, Liaoho, and Yalu River (Amnok-kang). The northern and western shores are mainly low, while the eastern shores are high, rocky, and deeply cut. The main gulfs are the Liaotung and Pohaiwan, which are linked with the sea by the Pohai, Laotiehshang, and West Korea straits. Depths increase steadily from north to south to 84-92 m, and in the extreme southeast, to 105 m. The floor of the sea consists of sand and ooze. The climate is temperate and monsoonal. In winter, cold dry winds from the northwest predominate; the summer winds, warm and humid, blow from the southeast. From June through October there are frequent typhoons. The mean air temperature in January varies from -10°C in the north to 3°C in the south; in July the temperature varies between 23° and 26°C. Average annual precipitation varies from 600 mm in the north to 1,000 mm in the south, with a maximum in the summer. Surface currents form a cyclonal rotation, created by the warm current from the east advancing from the East China Sea and the cold western current coming from the northwestern part of the sea. The speed of the current is 1-4 km/hr. The water temperature in February in the northwest is below 0°C; in the south, 6°C to 8°C; in August, it is 24°C in the north and 28°C in the south. Salinity varies from 30 parts per thousand (‰) and less in the northwest to 33-34 ‰ in the southeast; near river mouths, it decreases to 26 ‰ and less. Near the bottom, at a depth of 30- vj m, the temperature varies from 6°C to 7°C; salinity is 32.5‰. In November, ice forms in the northwest, thawing in March. The color of the water varies from yellow-green to blue-green. In the northwest, the sea’s water is transparent to a depth of 10 m; in the south, to 45 m. Tides are irregularly diurnal, reaching 9 m on the Korean shore and 3m elsewhere. Sea bream, eels, oysters, cod, herring, and mussels are found.
The sea has important fishing and transport industries. In China the main ports are Tsingtao, Weihai, Yant’ai, Tientsin, Yingk’ou, Liishun (Port Arthur), and Liita (Dairen); Inchon, Korea, is another of its important ports.
On July 28 (Aug. 10), 1904, during the Russo-Japanese war, there was a battle on the Yellow Sea between Russian and Japanese squadrons. On this day, the Port Arthur squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral V. K. Vitgeft, left port with six battleships, four cruisers, and eight destroyers to break through to Vladivostok, but met the main forces of the Japanese fleet—four battleships, four armored cruisers, eight cruisers, and 18 destroyers under the command of Admiral H. Togo. Although the Japanese did not succeed in seizing the Russian squadron or breaking its formation, Vitgeft was killed during the ensuing artillery duel, and his staff was put out of action. The squadron command was lost, and the ships began to leave the scene of battle in separate groups. Most of the ships—five battleships, one cruiser, and four destroyers—returned to Port Arthur; the rest were interned in neutral ports. The cruiser Novik tried to get through to Vladivostok, skirting Japan to the east, but was sunk off the southern coast of Sakhalin after a battle with Japanese cruisers.