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Research Document - 2006/030

An assessment of the physical oceanographic environment on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2005

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

Abstract

Oceanographic observations on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2005 are presented in relation to their long-term (1971-2000) means. At Station 27 off St. John’s, the depth-averaged annual water temperature decreased slightly from the record high of 2004 to just over 0.5°C above normal, the 7th highest on record. Annual surface temperatures at Station 27 were identical to 2004, 1°C above normal, the highest in the 60 year record. Bottom temperatures were also above normal by 0.8°C, the 3rd highest in the 60-year record. Annual surface temperatures on Hamilton Bank were 1°C above normal, the 4th highest on record, on the Flemish Cap they were 2°C above normal, the 3rd highest and on St. Pierre Bank they were 1.7°C above normal, the highest in 56 years. Upper-layer salinities at Station 27 were above normal for the 4th consecutive year. The area of the cold-intermediate-layer (CIL) water mass on the eastern Newfoundland Shelf during 2005 was below normal for the 11th consecutive year and the 5th lowest since 1948. The near-bottom thermal habitat on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf continued to warm in 2005, with bottom temperatures reaching a record of 2°C above average on Hamilton Bank off southern Labrador during the fall. Bottom temperatures on St. Pierre Bank were above normal during the spring of 2005, the highest since 2000 and the 6th highest in 36 years. The area of bottom habitat on the Grand Banks covered by sub-zero water has decreased from >50% during the first half of the 1990s to near 15% during the past 2 years. In general water temperatures on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf decreased slightly from 2004 values, but remained well above their long-term means, continuing the warm trend experienced since the mid to late 1990s. Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf water salinities, which were lower than normal throughout most of the 1990s, increased to the highest observed in over a decade during 2002 and have remained above normal at shallow depths during 2005.

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