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Research Document - 2009/041

An Overview of Meteorological, Sea Ice and Sea-Surface Temperature Conditions off Nova Scotia and the Gulf of Maine during 2008

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


In 2008, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index was positive (+4.3 mb, +0.5 SD) and slightly higher than its 2007 value (+2.5 mb, +0.3 SD). Mean annual air temperatures were 0.2 to 1.3°C above normal, with the highest anomaly (1.3°C) recorded on the Magdalen Islands. The average December-June Newfoundland and Labrador sea ice cover and ice volume were 0.5 and 0.3 SD (standard deviation) below normal, respectively. The Gulf of St. Lawrence ice cover (Dec.-Apr.) in 2008 was the 20th lowest (0.1 SD below normal) and ice volume (Dec.-Apr.) was the 15th lowest (0.47 SD below normal) in the 39 year record. Below normal conditions also prevailed on the Scotian Shelf: overall the January to April coverage and volume were 0.84 (15th) and 0.42 SD (19th) below normal. Nine hundred seventy-six icebergs reached the Grand Banks in 2008, a substantial increase from 2007 when 324 were observed, and significantly greater than the long-term mean of 703. The analysis of satellite data indicates that positive sea surface temperatures (SST) anomalies prevailed throughout the region with a representative value of about +0.6°C (+0.9 SD). Twenty-two of 23 areas had positive annual SST anomalies; values ranged from 0°C (Georges Bank) to +1.4°C (Hamilton Bank). In 2008, a composite index, which combines the NAO, air temperature, ice volume, and SST observations, was the 5th warmest in the 39 year record, an increase from 2007.

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