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Research Document - 2001/054

Overview of meteorological, sea ice and sea surface temperature conditions off eastern Canada during 2000)

By K.F. Drinkwater, B. Petrie, R.G. Pettipas, and W.M. Petrie


A review of meteorological and sea ice conditions off eastern Canada during 2000 is presented. Annual mean air temperatures throughout most of the northwest Atlantic were warmer than normal, although from southern Labrador to the eastern Gulf of Maine, they declined relative to the record setting temperatures of 1999. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index was above normal and similar to 1999. It was well above the values of 1996-1998 but similar to levels seen in the cold period of the early 1990s. The high index means that the large-scale atmospheric circulation, including the Icelandic Low and Azores High, was more intense than normal in 2000. Sea ice on the southern Labrador and Newfoundland shelves generally appeared late or on schedule but left early, resulting in a shorter duration of ice than usual. The ice coverage in these areas was lower than average. The number of icebergs reaching the Grand Banks in 2000 was 843, well up from the 22 icebergs observed in 1999, but lower than the numbers recorded through most of the 1990s. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, sea ice also appeared late or on schedule but disappeared much earlier-than-normal. Little to no ice reached the Scotian Shelf and the areal coverage of ice in the Sydney Bight area off eastern Cape Breton was much less-than-normal. Sea-surface temperatures throughout eastern Canadian waters were warmer-than-normal in 2000.

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