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Research Document - 2003/024

An overview of meteorologoical, sea ice and sea-surface temperature conditions off eastern Canada during 2002

By Drinkwater, K.F., Petrie, B., Pettipas, R.G.

Abstract

A review of meteorological, sea ice and sea surface temperature conditions in the Northwest Atlantic in 2002 is presented. During 2002, the NAO index was below normal for the second consecutive year indicating a weakening of the Icelandic Low and Azores High during the winter. Annual mean air temperatures over the northwest Atlantic region were above normal during the year although from Greenland to the Scotian Shelf they decreased on the order of 1ºC compared to 2001. In contrast, over the Gulf of Maine and the Middle Atlantic Bight annual air temperatures rose relative to the 2001 values. The relatively warm winter temperatures in eastern Canada resulted in less ice than normal off Newfoundland and Labrador, and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ice generally arrived late. Its departure was early in the Gulf, causing a shorter duration than usual. Off Newfoundland, although there was less ice than normal, it remained around longerthan-usual and contributed to a longer than average duration of sea ice. Little ice reached the Scotian Shelf for the fifth consecutive year and seaward of Cabot Strait the integrated ice area over the ice season was the 2nd lowest in the 41-year record. The number of icebergs that reached the northern Grand Bank south of 48ºN was 877, significantly higher than 2001 when only 89 bergs were observed on the Banks. The analysis of satellite data indicates that most of the NW Atlantic experienced above normal sea-surface temperatures in 2002.

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