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Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program. Sampling Program. The sampling program is comprised of 12 sections monitored seasonally and 6 fixed stations sampled more frequently. This sampling is supplemented by four groundfish surveys conducted at various times of the year.

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Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program

Sampling Program

The sampling program is comprised of 12 sections monitored seasonally and 6 fixed stations sampled more frequently. This sampling is supplemented by four groundfish surveys conducted at various times of the year.

Variables measured include water temperature and salinity, oxygen, fluorescence, nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, silicate), and phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass and species composition.


Stn 27

Stn 2 Halifax

The inserts show the magnitude and timing of the spring bloom for selected stations for 2000. The bloom is comparatively smaller and earlier at Halifax and occurs the latest in the St. Lawrence Estuary. In the Bay of Fundy, chlorophyll remains high throughout the summer season and extends to the bottom. .


Remote Sensing

Continuous Plankton Recorder

Canada’s large east coast makes shelf wide monitoring a enormous task. AZMP supports innovative alternatives to conventional sampling from vessels.

Real-time oceanographic buoys and moored ocean profilers that derive their power from wave action provide a means to sample in less accessible areas. Commercial vessels making regular passage through the Gulf of St. Lawrence have been instrumented with temperature and salinity sensors. The Moving Vessel Profiler (MVP) samples while a ship is underway, saving ship time and allowing higher density sampling. The Laser Optical Plankton Counter (LOPC) may eventually reduce the need for net tows and manual counting and identification of zooplankton.

Measurements of sea surface temperature (left) and chlorophyll (right) from satellite provide spatial and temporal coverage not attainable by conventional observations from ships.

Composite two week 1.5 km. resolution maps are derived from averages of multiple passes each day.

Ship based measurements are still required to determine sub-surface variations.

The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) component of AZMP consist of the identification and counting of phytoplankton and zooplankton species on lines from Iceland to Newfoundland, (Line Z) and from Newfoundland to Boston (Line E). The data are collected on behalf of DFO by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation using ships of opportunity.

The CPR data provide the longest record of changes in plankton abundance and distribution in the Northwest Atlantic. The E and Z lines have been run since 1961.

Stn 2 Halifax

Prince 5

Data Access

Public access to all of the AZMP data and data products is provided by DFO’s national data center, the Marine Environmental Data Service, through the AZMP web site.

Data management is an important component of AZMP. Standardized measurement protocols, data processing and quality control procedures are in use. AZMP has also been a strong supporter of the development of a national database for marine chemical and biological data.

Databases of meteorological data, sea level and suite of climate indices are also maintained.

The AZMP began in 1998 to provide a seasonal description of the marine biological, chemical and physical ecosystem of Atlantic Canada. It is a combined effort of the DFO Gulf, Maritimes, Newfoundland and Québec regions and the national Marine Environmental Data Service. The elements of the program include seasonal sections, more frequent sampling at fixed stations, and environmental sampling on groundfish surveys.

Variables measured include temperature, salinity, nutrients, oxygen, chlorophyll, phytoplankton and zooplankton sampling and light attenuation. Broad spatial coverage is provided by the use of remote sensing of sea-surface temperature and ocean color from satellite.

The observational program is supplemented by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) lines, Sea Level Network and nearshore Long-Term Temperature Monitoring.

Groundfish Surveys

Four groundfish surveys in Maritimes region support the AZMP program. Surveys are conducted on;

Georges Bank in February,

Eastern Scotian Shelf in March,

Scotian Shelf in July

Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in September

In addition to their own program, the groundfish surveys run the full suite of physical, biological and chemical measurement for AZMP. The panel on the right, which shows the distribution of bottom nitrate for 1998 and 1999 from the Scotian Shelf July survey, illustrates the value of these surveys.

Bottom nitrate was relatively low in 1998 when the area was dominated by water from the Labrador current. More normal values were observed in 1999 with the return of the warmer slope water.