Fisheries climatology

Learn about fisheries climatology and climate-ocean regime indices.

About fisheries climatology

Fisheries climatology focuses on the possible impacts of climate and climate change on marine fish stocks on the west coast of Canada, including their:

Traditional stock assessment models have concentrated primarily on the response of fish stocks to fishing pressure. This uses the assumption that environmental effects are too random and/or too complicated to be included in the model parameters.

Recent work suggests that climate effects aren’t the result of random fluctuations over a continuum. Rather, they’re the result of abrupt shifts between several steady states, or regimes.

We hope to be able to incorporate an understanding of climate regimes and regime shifts into the stock assessment process. This can help us improve our understanding of stock dynamics and our ability to predict changes in stock abundance.

Climate-ocean regime indices

 Climate-ocean regime indices developed or collected by staff at the Pacific Biological Station include:

For each index you’ll find a:

If you use this data, you must cite the original manuscript using the reference provided with each index.

For more information, contact Dr. Jackie King by email at jackie.king@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Aleutian low pressure index

Aleutian low pressure index

Graphic showing sea level pressure over the North Pacific for February 2015.

The Aleutian low pressure index measures the relative intensity of the Aleutian low pressure system of the north Pacific for December through March. It’s:

  • the average area (kilometres squared) with sea level pressure less than or equal to 100.5 kilopascal
  • expressed as an anomaly from the 1950 to 1997 average

A positive index value reflects a relatively strong (intense) Aleutian low.

In 2015, we completely regenerated this index using a new method, which:

  • shows no difference in the periods with positive or negative values
  • produces the Aleutian low pressure index values that are comparable to previously published values (1900 to 2008)

Download the text file containing the annual values for this index.

Correct citation

  • Surry, A.M. and King, J.R. 2015. A New Method for Calculating ALPI: the Aleutian Low Pressure Index. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3135: 31 + v p.
Atmospheric forcing index

Atmospheric forcing index

Graphic showing atmospheric forcing index for 1900 to 2000.

The atmospheric forcing index uses standardized scores of the first component from a principal components analysis on the:

  • Aleutian low pressure index
  • Pacific interdecadal oscillation index
  • the northwesterly atmospheric circulation anomalies for the North Pacific (December through March)

Positive values represent:

  • intense Aleutian lows
  • warming within North American coastal waters
  • above average frequency of westerly and southwesterly winds
  • cooling of sea surface temperatures in the central North Pacific

Download the text file containing the annual values for this index.

Correct citation

  • McFarlane, G.A., J.R. King and R.J. Beamish. 2000. Have there been recent changes in climate? Ask the fish. Prog. Oceangr. 47 (2000) 147-169. (Abstract)
Winter Pacific circulation index

Winter Pacific circulation index

Graphic showing the pacific circulation index for 1900 to 2000.

The winter Pacific circulation index is the total of negative northwesterly atmospheric circulation frequency anomalies for December through March, including:

  • Z (westerly)
  • M1 (northwesterly)
  • M2 (southwesterly)

An increasing trend in the winter Pacific circulation index reflects increased westerly and southwesterly atmospheric circulation off the west coast of Canada.

Download the text file containing the annual values for this index.

Correct citation

  • King, J.R., V. V. Ivanov, V. Kurashov, R. J. Beamish and G. A. McFarlane. 1998. General circulation of the atmosphere over the North Pacific and its relationship to the Aleutian Low. North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission Doc. No. 318. 18 p. Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Science Branch - Pacific Region, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC, Canada, V9R 5K6. Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, 38 Bering Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 199397. View  full document (PDF, 52 KB).
Length of day

Length of day

Chart showing length of day for 1900 to 2000.

Length of day is a measurement of the rotational speed of the solid earth. It’s measured as the annual average difference (10 to 3 seconds) between astronomically and atomically derived lengths of day.

Download the text file containing the annual values for this index.

Correct citation

  • Beamish, R.J., D. Noakes, G.A. McFarlane, L. Klyashtorin, V.V. Ivanov and V. Kurashov. 1999. The regime concept and natural trends in the production of Pacific salmon. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 56: 516-526.
Fraser River flows

Fraser River flows

The mean discharge (m3 s-1) of the Fraser River measured at Hope Station is presented as the mean discharge for:

  • an annual year (January through December)
  • a flow year (April of the present year through March of the next year)

Download the text file containing the annual values for this index.

Correct citation

  • Beamish. R. J., C. M. Neville, B.L. Thomson, P. J. Harrison, and M. St John. 1994. A relationship between Fraser River discharge and interannual production of Pacific Salmon (Onchorynchus spp.) and Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) in the Strait of Georgia. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci 51:2943-2855.
Publications

Publications

Recent publications by the Fisheries Climatology Program:

  • King, J.R., G.A. McFarlane and R.J. Beamish. 2001. Incorporating the dynamics of marine systems into the stock assessment and management of sablefish. In Pacific Climate Variability and Marine Ecosystem Impacts from the Tropics to the Arctic. McKinnell, S.M., Brodeur, R.D., Hanawa, K., Hollowed, A.B., Polovina, J.J. & Zhang, C.-I. [eds.]. Prog. Oceangr. In press.
  • Beamish, R.J, G.A. McFarlane and J.R. King. 2000. Fisheries Climatology: Understanding the Interannual and Decadal Scale Processes that Regulate British Columbia Fish Populations Naturally. pp. 94-139. In Fisheries Oceanography: A Science for the New Millennium. T. Parsons and P. Harrison [eds.]
  • King, J. R., V. V. Ivanov, V. Kurashov, R. J. Beamish and G. A. McFarlane. 1998. General circulation of the atmosphere over the North Pacific and its relationship to the Aleutian Low. North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission Doc. No. 318. 18 p. Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Science Branch – Pacific Region, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC, Canada, V9R 5K6. Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, 38 Bering Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 199397. View  full document (PDF, 52 KB).
  • King, J. R., G. A. McFarlane and R.J. Beamish. 2000. Decadal scale patterns in the relative year class success of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria). Fish. Oceangr. 9: 62-70.
  • McFarlane, G.A., J.R. King, and R.J. Beamish. 2000. Have there been recent changes in climate? Ask the fish. Prog. in Oceanography. 47(2-4): 147-169.
  • Surry, A.M. and King, J.R. 2015. A New Method for Calculating ALPI: the Aleutian Low Pressure Index. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 3135: 31 + v p.
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