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Research Document - 2003/020

Physical oceanographic conditions on the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves during 2002

By Colbourne, E.B.

Abstract

Oceanographic observations from Nain Bank on the central Labrador Shelf to the Southern Grand Bank on the Newfoundland Shelf during 2002 are presented referenced to their long-term (1971-2000) means. The annual water-column averaged temperature at Station 27 for 2002 decreased compared to 2001 values, but remained above the long-term mean over most depth ranges. Water-column averaged summer salinities at Station 27 increased over 2001 values to above normal and to the highest in 12 years. The cross-sectional areas of <0oC (CIL) water were below normal along all sections from the Grand Bank (Flemish Cap section), to the Seal Island section off southern Labrador. Off Bonavista the CIL area was very similar to 2001, below normal for the 8th consecutive year and among the lowest observed since 1978. Bottom temperatures on the Grand Banks during the spring of 2002 ranged from near normal to above normal (by up to 0.5oC) over most areas. During the fall, bottom temperatures were generally above normal, except for the shallow waters of the southeast Grand Bank, where they were up to 2oC below normal. Fall bottom temperatures in Divs. 2J and 3K were above normal in most areas, up to 2oC on Hamilton Bank and up to 1oC on Funk Island Bank. In general, over all areas of the Newfoundland Shelf, the near-bottom thermal habitat continued to be warmer than that experienced from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The below-normal trend in water temperature, established in the late 1980s, reached a minimum in 1991, moderated by 1996, reached a maximum in 1999 and has continued above normal up to 2002. Water salinities on the Newfoundland Shelf also reached near-record lows in the early 1990s, remained below normal throughout most of the 1990s and up to 2001, however, during 2002 there was a significant increase with surface values the highest observed in over a decade.

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