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Research Document 2021/017

Physical Oceanographic Conditions on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelf during 2019

By Cyr, F., Snook, S., Bishop, C., Galbraith, P.S., Pye, B., Chen, N., and Han, G.


An overview of physical oceanographic conditions in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region during 2019 is presented as part of the Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP). The winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, a key indicator of the direction and intensity of the winter wind field patterns over the Northwest Atlantic was positive for a 6th consecutive year (since 2012, only 2013 was negative). The large majority of the environmental parameters presented in this report were however close to normal. The sea-ice volume across the Newfoundland and Labrador shelf was slightly below normal, characterized by a large negative anomaly in March-April, which also led to an early retreat on Newfoundland shelf. A large number of icebergs (1,515) drifted south of 48°N, the 7th highest number since 1900. Annual sea surface temperature across the NW Atlantic was about normal, but characterized with slightly warmer than normal temperature in the north and colder than normal temperature in the south, especially during the first half of the year. Observations from the summer AZMP oceanographic survey indicate that after a predominance of colder than average conditions since 2012, the volume of the cold intermediate layer (CIL, <0°C) reduced along Bonavista and Flemish Cap section in 2019 (CIL along Seal Island section was normal this year but was reduced in 2018). The spatially-averaged bottom temperature in 3LNOPs during the spring was close to normal, except along the slopes of the Grand Banks where it was above normal. For the fall, bottom temperature in 2HJ3KLNO was also above normal, especially in 2J (+1.1 SD) and 3K (+1.0 SD). The Labrador Current transport index along the Labrador and northern Newfoundland slope in 2019 was back to normal after the 2018 record high since the beginning of the time series that started in 1993. The NL climate index was normal in 2019.

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