Friday, February 3, 2012

The 2012 Atlantic Salmon Season

Click Graph For Latest Results
Here in the North East United States, so far, we have had one of the mildest and storm free winters on record.  If you look at the graph above it holds the reasons and understanding of why this happens.  In prior posts, I have explained the North Atlantic Oscillation and it's effects on Atlantic Salmon returns in North America.

Simply, the NAO has been in a positive, northerly position,  state for this entire season starting back in October.  Also note that the red line forecasts show a possibility that we will be in a negative position very soon. If the temperature in the North East gets colder you will know why.

You may have seen on the news the extra cold temperatures that have been locked in the Arctic.  Because the boundary between high and low barometric pressure in the North Atlantic has been pushed so far north, the cold is blocked and can not move south.  Conversely, the warm is able to travel farther north carrying the storms and warmer air in the elevated jet stream across Southern Canada.  This would usually mean greater snow fall in Quebec and the Eastern Providences.

What this also means is that those storms traveling across North America are moving into the Atlantic Ocean at a higher latitude disrupting the winter feeding areas that Atlantic Salmon require to sustain numbers and size.  Food is scattered and harder to find.   It also means that these storms will travel farther north in the Atlantic and circle down into Europe causing lower than normal temperatures and substantial snowfall.  The normal path would have these storms joining with the effects of the Gulf Stream and offering Europe a typically mild winter.  Given the news reports I have seen, sadly Europe is having a less than typical and deadly winter.

As hard as it is to make any prediction,  and if I were only using the information so far, and except for one factor, the writing would be on the wall.  I would say we are going to certainly have a down turn from last year.  Not a bad season because of the fairly even line on the graph.  Years past have had the spikes be car  more dramatic in both directions.  If the graph were to turn negative and stay that way for the balane of the winter I might have a different opinion.

This year, the X factor is that there have not been so many harsh storms that have moved across Newfoundland and north to Greenland.  I have been told by a highly reliable source in Newfoundland that things are close to average with a bit more snow on the eastern part of the Provence.

This factor could negate the effects of the oscillation alone.  If the ocean is not tormented then predator will find it's prey comfortably.

So as the season progresses into summer, remember that the Oscillation is in an upward swing of it's thirty five year cycle.  Just like the banner year of 1996 during the doldrums happened, 2012 might not go down in history as very special.  But then again..........

So, now that I have said this, it is a wait and see for me.  This is year number four trying to understand Earth science from an anglers point of view.  Also it is very early in the winter season to conclude any prediction.  I plan to closely follow the NAO for the next three months as conditions could change.  I know that I  need many more years of full season information to completely understand all the effects that are possible.


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