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Research Document - 2004/047

An Overview of Meteorological, Sea Ice and Sea-Surface Temperature Conditions off Eastern Canada

By Petrie, B., Pettipas, R.G., Petrie, W.M., Drinkwater, K.F.

Abstract

A review of meteorological, sea ice and sea surface temperature conditions in the Northwest Atlantic in 2003 is presented. During 2003, the NAO index was below normal for the third consecutive year and close to the 2002 value. Air temperatures over the northwest Atlantic region were above normal, with annual values ~2°C above normal in the northern Labrador Sea decreasing to the south to ~0.2°C above normal at Sable Island. There was about 20% less ice coverage than normal during the ice season (December 2002-May 2003) for the southern Labrador-Newfoundland shelf region. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence the seasonal coverage was about 10% above the long-term mean, the first year above normal since 1995. The Scotian Shelf had twice the long-term January-May coverage and was dominated by March, when coverage approached the long-term maximum. This also was the first year since 1995 with the ice season coverage above the long-term mean. The 927 icebergs that reached the Grand Bank was about equal to the 877 counted in 2002. The analysis of satellite data indicates a north-south gradient of sea surface temperatures with above normal annual anomalies as large as 1.2°C from the northern Labrador Sea to the northeast Newfoundland Shelf and Flemish Pass and generally below normal values on the Grand Banks, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and over the Scotian Shelf.

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