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Research Document - 2004/022

An assessment of the physical oceanographic environment on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2003

By Colbourne, E., Fitzpatrick, C., Senciall, D., Stead, P., Bailey, W., Craig, J., Bromley, C.

Abstract

Oceanographic observations from Nain Bank on the central Labrador Shelf to the Southern Grand Bank on the Newfoundland Shelf during 2003 are presented referenced to their long-term (1971-2000) means. The annual water-column averaged temperature at Station 27 for 2003 remained above the long-term mean and increased over 2002 values at all depth ranges. The annual surface temperature at Station 27 was 0.7oC above normal, while the annual bottom temperature remained similar to 2002 at 0.2oC above normal. Bottom temperatures were above normal during January and February, below normal during spring and above normal during the remainder of the year. Water-column averaged annual salinities at Station 27 remained above normal, similar to 2002. Surface salinities at Station 27 were above normal for 11 of 12 months, while bottom salinities were generally below normal, particularly during the period April to July. The cross-sectional area of <0oC (CIL) water on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during the summer of 2003 increased slightly over 2002 values but remained below the long-term mean for the ninth consecutive year in some areas. In general, the cold temperatures observed along standard sections off the east coast of Newfoundland during the spring moderated by summer and were generally above normal by fall. Bottom temperature anomalies on the Grand Bank during the spring of 2003 were highly variable, mostly positive in the northern areas of 3LNO during both spring and fall. However, fall bottom temperatures for the shallow waters of the southeast Grand Bank were similar to 2002, up to 2oC below normal. Fall bottom temperatures in Divs. 2J and 3K were also above normal, up to 2oC on Hamilton Bank and up to 1oC on Funk Island Bank. In summary, 2003 was a year of extremes in many areas, with below normal temperatures in early spring, but increased to above normal values through the year. In general both 2002 and 2003 were cooler than 1999-2000 values, but remained above normal over most areas continuing the trend established in 1996.

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