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Research Document - 2007/022

An Overview of Meteorological, Sea Ice and Sea-Surface Temperature Conditions off Eastern Canada during 2006

By Petrie, B., R.G. Pettipas, and W.M. Petrie


After 4 consecutive years (2001-04) of below normal anomalies and a small positive value in 2005, the NAO index returned to a slightly, below normal value (-3.3 mb) in 2006. A negative index implies weaker winds from the northwest, warmer air temperatures and reduced oceanic heat loss during winter over the Labrador Sea and partly over the Labrador and Newfoundland Shelf. The air temperatures were warmer than normal throughout the area: annual average values were above normal by 1.8 to 3.1°C over the Labrador Sea and Shelf, 1.7°C over the Newfoundland Shelf, 2.3°C in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1.4°C over the Scotian Shelf and 0.8-1.3°C in Gulf of Maine. The Newfoundland sea ice cover (Dec-June) was the 2nd lowest in 37 years and its duration was 20 to 60 days less than average depending on location. The Gulf of St. Lawrence ice cover (Dec-Apr) in 2006 was the lowest in the 38 year record; the ice season was the 2nd shortest in 38 years. Below normal conditions also prevailed on the Scotian Shelf: the ice cover (Jan-Apr) was the 3rd least in 38 years and its duration was 40-50 days less than normal. No icebergs reached the Grand Banks in 2006, only the second year since 1880 when none were reported. The analysis of satellite data indicates a north-south gradient of sea surface temperatures similar to the air temperature distribution. In 2006, there were positive annual SST anomalies from Bravo in the Labrador Sea and Hudson Strait on the northern Labrador Shelf to eastern Georges Bank and the Bay of Fundy. Annual anomalies ranged from 0.05°C (Georges Bank) to 2.04°C (eastern Grand Bank).

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