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Research Document - 2007/030

An assessment of the physical oceanographic environment on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2006

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


Oceanographic observations on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2006 are presented in relation to their long-term (1971-2000) means. At Station 27 off St. John's, the depth-averaged annual water temperature increased over 2005 setting a new record high of nearly 1°C above normal. Annual surface temperatures at Station 27 were also the highest in 61-years at 1.7°C above normal. Bottom temperatures were also above normal by 0.8°C, the 3rd highest in the 61-year record. Annual surface temperatures on Hamilton Bank were 1°C above normal, the 10th highest on record, on the Flemish Cap they were 2.5°C above normal, the 3rd highest in 57 years. Upper-layer salinities at Station 27 were above normal for the 5th consecutive year. The area of the Cold-Intermediate-Layer (CIL) water mass on the eastern Newfoundland Shelf during 2006 was below normal for the 12th consecutive year and the 3rd lowest since 1948. The near-bottom thermal habitat on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf continued warmer than normal in 2006, with bottom temperatures remaining >2°C, about 0.5°C above normal on Hamilton Bank off southern Labrador during the fall. Bottom temperatures during the fall however decreased substantially from 2005, particularly in northern areas. 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, ranking the 3rd lowest in 2006. In general, except for late fall values, water temperatures on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf increased from 2005 values, 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 in most areas during 2006.

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