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Research Document - 2001/055

Physical oceanographic conditions on the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine during 2000

By Drinkwater, K., B. Petrie, R. Pettipas, L. Petrie and V. Soukhovtsev

Abstract

A review of physical oceanographic conditions on the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine and adjacent offshore areas during 2000 is presented. Warm conditions dominated the region at all depths. Coastal sea surface temperatures, fisheries surveys, transect data, fixed monitoring sites and other CTD stations all indicate that surface temperatures were well above normal throughout the year. Subsurface temperatures in the northeastern portions of the Scotian Shelf continued their warming trend, were above normal and rose slightly relative to 1999. This followed nearly 15 years of below normal temperatures with the minimal temperatures recorded in the early to mid-1990s. Waters in the deep basins both on the Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine indicate continuance of the warm conditions re-established in 1999 after the cold water event of 1998. Near bottom temperatures throughout the Scotian Shelf were also above normal in 2000 and the area of bottom covered by cold temperatures decreased significantly. The cold intermediate layer waters emulating from the Gulf also were warmer-than-usual. Warm Slope Water was located offshore and there was no evidence of Cold Slope Water along the Scotian Shelf or off the Gulf of Maine during 2000. While the vertical stratification in the upper water column (between surface and 50 m) over the Scotian Shelf generally weakened in 2000 relative to 1999, it remained higher than normal. The Shelf/Slope front and the Gulf Stream were well shoreward of their normal positions. For the Gulf Stream it was the 2nd most shoreward position in the 29-year record.

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