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North Atlantic atmosphere highlights 2019

Climatic conditions in the North Atlantic for 2019 presented by the Working Group on Oceanographic Hydrography in ICES Report on Ocean Climate.
Published: 22 December 2020

​​Long time-series of ocean properties are rare in the surface ocean and even more uncommon in the deep ocean. The North Atlantic region is unique, having a relatively large number of locations where oceanographic data have been collected repeatedly for multiple years or decades. The longest records extend back more than a century.

Since the early 1990s, ICES Working Group on Ocean Hydrography has published an annual review of atmospheric and oceanographic conditions in the North Atlantic as a special issue in ICES Cooperative Research Report (CRR) series, the ICES Report on Ocean Climate. CRR 350 IROC 2019 is now available.

In 2020, the joint analysis of the ex​​isting data were consolidated into highlights regarding the atmosphere.​​​

​​Highlights for the North Atlantic atmosphere in winter2018/2019 based on a review of available observations

The NAO index remained positive for a sixth successive winter. The index was strongest since 2015, but the associated pattern of sea level pressure was most evident in the east of the region. Air temperatures were relatively warm across Europe, the Nordic seas, and the Labrador Sea. Colder-than-normal winter air temperatures were limited to a region stretching from Nova Scotia to east of Flemish Cap. Wind speeds across the region in winter 2018/19 were generally lower than average, particularly east of Newfoundland, also from south of Cape Farewell across to the northern North Sea, and in a band stretching across the Nordic seas from Scoresbysund in Greenland to the North Cape of Norway.

Outlook for the North Atlantic region in 2019/2020
The NAO index for winter 2019/2020 is likely more strongly positive than the last winter with more typical NAO sea level pressure anomaly pattern extending across the region. A region from the west of Ireland across the UK, North Sea, and southern Scandinavia will have experienced particularly strong south westerly winds through December-February.​

Experimental seasonal forecasts predict that summer 2020 surface temperatures are likely to be warmer than average across the region, but that the subpolar gyre to the west of Ireland and Iceland and southeast of Cape Farewell are more likely to be near average than other areas.


ICES Working Group on Oceanic Hydrography (WGOH) closely monitors the ocean conditions in the ICES area by updating and reviewing results from standard hydrographic sections and stations. WGOH's work addresses Ecosystem science, Ecosystem science, Observation and exploration, and Conservation and management science, three of ICES scientific priorities. 

Discover all seven interrelated scientific priorities and how our network will address them in our Science Plan: “Marine ecosystem and sustainability science for the 2020s and beyond". ​​​

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North Atlantic atmosphere highlights 2019

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