Language selection


Research Document 2020/071

Optical, Chemical, and Biological Oceanographic Conditions on the Scotian Shelf and in the eastern Gulf of Maine during 2019

By Casault, B., Johnson, C., Devred, E., Head, E., Cogswell, A., and Spry, J.


Ocean physical conditions in the Maritimes Region in 2019 were characterized by cooler surface temperatures, continued warmer bottom temperatures and weaker stratification compared to recent years. Deep nutrient inventories were lower than normal over most of the region, with the exception of the Cabot Strait section where deep nutrients were near or higher than normal during the spring sampling and associated with record-warm water. Anomalies of surface nutrients were negative across the region, with the exception of positive anomalies observed at the deep shelf and offshore stations of the Louisbourg section. The spring phytoplankton bloom was near or slightly earlier than normal across the Scotian Shelf (SS) with near-normal duration. Peak chlorophyll a concentrations during the spring bloom occurred within a narrow time window across the SS. At Halifax-2 (HL2), the spring bloom was characterized by a high amplitude, and a rapid progression and decline. Plankton community changes persisted in 2019 with lower abundance of large phytoplankton (diatoms), mainly lower-than-normal biomass of zooplankton and abundance of Calanus finmarchicus, and higher-than-normal abundance of non-copepods. Arctic Calanus and warm-shelf copepods showed mixed abundance anomalies in 2019, reversing the pattern of 2018. Above-normalabundances of Oithona atlantica, especially at HL2, suggest a greater influence of offshore waters in recent years. Surface temperature in the Bedford Basin was near normal in 2019 with mainly cooler-than-normal temperatures from January to June and near- or slightly-above-normal temperatures from July to December. Bottom temperature and salinity were below normal in 2019 with near- or slightly-above-normal conditions at the start of the year and progressing toward cooler and fresher water from February to December. Surface and deep nitrate, phosphate and silicate were near or below normal, with surface phosphate reaching a record low in 2019. The 2018 Continuous Plankton Recorder data indicated an annual abundance of diatoms close to normal for the Eastern (ESS) and Western Scotian Shelf (WSS), while the abundance of dinoflagellates and the Phytoplankton Colour Index values were near (WSS) or above (ESS) normal. The annual abundance of Calanus CI-IV was near normal (ESS) or slightly below normal (WSS), while C. finmarchicus CV-VI levels were slightly below (ESS) or below (WSS) normal. The abundance of Calanus glacialis (ESS, WSS) and Para/Pseudocalanus and Limacina spp. (WSS) were lower than normal, while that of coccolithphore (ESS, WSS), and copepod nauplii and foraminifera (ESS) was higher than normal.

Accessibility Notice

This document is available in PDF format. If the document is not accessible to you, please contact the Secretariat to obtain another appropriate format, such as regular print, large print, Braille or audio version.

Date modified: