Surface and bottom temperature and salinity climatology along the continental shelf off the Canadian and U.S. East Coasts Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A new hydrographic climatology has been created for the continental shelf region, extending from the Labrador shelf to the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The 0.2-degree climatology combines all available observations of surface and bottom temperature and salinity collected between 1950 and 2010 along with the location, depth and date of these measurements. While climatological studies of surface and bottom temperature and salinity have been presented previously for various regions along the Canadian and U.S. shelves, studies also suggest that all these regions are part of one coherent system. This study focuses on the coherent structure of the mean seasonal cycle of surface and bottom temperature and salinity and its variation along the shelf and upper slope. The seasonal cycle of surface temperature is mainly driven by the surface heat flux and exhibits strong dependency on latitude (r??0.9). The amplitude of the seasonal cycle of bottom temperature is rather dependent on the depth, while the spatial distribution of bottom temperature is correlated with latitude. The seasonal cycle of surface salinity is influenced by several components, such as sea-ice on the northern shelves and river discharge in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The bottom salinity exhibits no clear seasonal cycle, but its spatial distribution is highly correlated with bathymetry, thus Slope Water and its intrusion on the shelf can be identified by its relatively high salinity compared to shallow, fresher shelf water. Two different regimes can be identified, especially on the shelf, separated by the Laurentian Channel: advection influences the phasing of the seasonal cycle of surface salinity and bottom temperature to the north, while in the southern region, river runoff and air-sea heat flux forcing are dominant, especially over the shallower bathymetry.

publication date

  • August 2016