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Research Document - 2005/014

An assessment of the physical oceanographic environment on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2004

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

Abstract

Oceanographic observations on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2004 are presented referenced to their long-term (1971-2000) means. The annual water-column averaged temperature at Station 27 for 2004 remained above the long-term mean and reached the highest value on record. The annual surface temperature at Station 27 was 1°C above normal, also the highest on record, while the annual bottom temperature was the highest since 1966. Water-column averaged annual salinities at Station 27 remained above normal for the 3rd consecutive year. The cross-sectional area of <0°C (CIL) water on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during the summer of 2004 decreased over 2003 remaining below the long-term mean along all sections. Off eastern Newfoundland along the Bonavista Section the summer CIL area was below normal for the 10th consecutive year and the lowest since 1965 and by late fall it was completely eroded. Temperatures along the standard sections, except for some isolated cold surface anomalies, were generally above normal by 1o to 2°C in most areas during spring and summer and in all areas during the fall. Except for slightly negative salinity anomalies over the inner shelf during spring, most areas of the shelf during 2004 experienced generally saltier-than-normal conditions. During the spring of 2004, bottom temperatures over St. Pierre Bank increased significantly over 2003 values with <0°C water restricted to the deeper waters of the approaches to Placentia Bay. Consequently, above normal temperatures were more widespread during 2004 compared to those of 2003, covering most of the bottom areas of the banks in the 3P region with values as high as 1°C above the long-term mean. In Division 3LNO spring bottom temperatures were above normal in all areas of the Grand Banks by 1°C to 1.5°C. As a result the spring of 2004 had the lowest area of <0°C water in Division 3L since the surveys began in the early 1970s. Bottom temperatures during the fall of 2004 were predominately above normal in all areas by 0.5o to 2°C and were the highest on record in Division 2J. In general, water temperatures on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf remained above normal, reaching record highs in some areas, continuing the warm trend experienced during the past several years.

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