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Research Document - 2003/026

Physical Oceanographic Conditions on the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine during 2002

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


A review of physical oceanographic conditions on the Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine and adjacent offshore areas during 2002 is presented. Warm and salty conditions tended to dominate most of the Scotian Shelf and Gulf of Maine areas in 2002. Mean annual sea-surface temperature at Boothbay Harbor was the 3rd warmest in 97 years and at St. Andrews the 9th warmest in 81 years. Particularly warm waters were observed in the Gulf of Maine at all depths in the Bay of Fundy at Prince 5, in Georges Basin, on Georges Bank and on Lurcher Shoals. Where salinity data were available, such as at Prince 5, waters tended to be saltier-than-normal. At Halifax Station 2 (H2) the surface and near bottom layers were warmer-than-usual but at mid-depths they varied through the year between colder and warmer than average. Waters at all depths at H2 tended to exhibit above normal salinities. Similarly warm waters were found in the deepest reaches of Emerald Basin and in the upper 50 to 100 m over Misaine Bank and in Sydney Bight. In these latter two areas, the lower layer waters tended to be on the cold side. Cabot Strait deep-water (200-300 m) temperatures measured on the high side of normal. Exceptions to the warm conditions included the SSTs at both Halifax and over most of the Scotian Shelf during the groundfish survey in July. Subsurface temperatures and salinities on the Shelf varied spatially but tended to be dominated by positive anomalies. There was a noticeable increase in bottom temperatures compared to 2001, however. The vertical stratification in the upper water column (between surface and 50 m) over the Scotian Shelf continued to weaken in 2002 relative to the last few years, and was below normal for the second consecutive year. The annual mean positions of the Shelf/Slope front and the Gulf Stream were similar to those observed in 2001. The Shelf/Slope front was seaward of its normal position while the Gulf Stream was shoreward of its normal position.

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