Ocean forecasts for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence are produced by the Operational Oceanography scientific team of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli, Québec.
Gulf of St. Lawrence
48 hour forecasts
The forecasts of surface currents, surface temperature, and sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence result from a three-dimensional numerical model (Saucier et al. 2000, 2003) coupled to the Canadian Meteorological Service's atmospheric forecast model (Environment Canada; Pellerin et al. 2004; Smith et al. 2013). The ocean model integrates the influence of tides, freshwater runoff, atmospheric forcing, and sea ice. The two models—oceanic and atmospheric—provide daily forecasts for the upcoming 48 hours. The ocean model results have been validated within the scientific and operational programs of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The validation included a number of comparisons with various ocean measurements: currents, water levels, water temperature and salinity, and sea-ice drift as well as its concentration and thickness.
The model's forcing data include:
- Tides at Cabot and Belle-Isle straits;
- Freshwater runoff at Quebec City
- Atmospheric forecasts from the Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model (Canadian Meteorological Centre, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada), which provide winds, air temperature, cloud cover, and relative humidity;
- Sea-ice observations integrated into daily charts from the Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada.
St. Lawrence Estuary, from Trois-Rivières to Cap de Bon-Désir
48 hour forecasts
The surface current forecasts for the St. Lawrence Estuary result from a three-dimensional numerical model (Saucier et al. 1999). The ocean model integrates tidal influence and mean freshwater runoff from the St. Lawrence River (no influence of the spring freshet) without wind forcing. Model results were validated with a statistically significant series of drifting buoy tracks in calm weather conditions. Tides are responsible for a high percentage of the current energy in this region, but the forecasts must be used with caution during intense or extreme wind conditions, and in spring freshet conditions.
Water level forecasts, from Montreal to Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive
30 day forecasts
The water level forecasts for the St. Lawrence River result from a one-dimensional model (Lefaivre et al. 2009) that integrates the flows from Lake Ontario, the Ottawa River basin, and other rivers to the St. Lawrence River. The model integrates the influence of tides and also the atmospheric forcing over the first 48 hours to be able to anticipate storm surges. Model results were validated with observations from the SINECO tide gauge network of the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Quebec region (http://marees-tides.gc.ca/eng/find/zone/1). Moreover, the model assimilates new observations in real time in order to increase its accuracy.
Water levels are shown in real time on the map; levels are colour-coded according to the legend beneath the figure. When a specific point on the map is selected (by a mouse click), a window opens showing that point's position and the water level (in metres) relative to local Chart Datum. To see the 30 day water level forecast for the selected point, click the link "Time Series Graph."
To access to the data, click on the "DOWNLOAD" button
It is possible to download images in PNG or GeoTIFF format. The data from which the images are generated are available in free format (text), HDF5, or NetCDF.
It is not yet possible to download water temperature data.
It is not yet possible to download water level forecasts (images or data).
When using the data, please cite "Fisheries and Oceans Canada" as the source.
- Lefaivre, D., S. Hamdi and B. Morse, 2009. Statistical analysis of the 30-day water level forecasts in the St. Lawrence River. Marine Geodesy, 32:1, 30-41.
- Pellerin, P., H. Ritchie, F.J. Saucier, F. Roy, S. Desjardins, M. Valin and V. Lee, 2004: Impact of a two-way coupling between an atmospheric and ocean-ice model over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Monthly Weather Review, 132(6): 1379-1398.
- Saucier, F.J., and J. Chassé, 2000. Tidal circulation and buoyancy effects in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Atmosphere-Ocean, 38(4): 505-556.
- Saucier, F.J., F. Roy, D. Gilbert, P. Pellerin and H. Ritchie, 2003. Modeling the formation and circulation processes of water masses and sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108(C8): 3269.
- Saucier, F. J., J. Chassé, M. Couture, R. Dorais, A. D'Astous, D. Lefaivre, and A. Gosselin, 1999. The making of a surface current atlas of the St. Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Fourth international conference on computer modelling of seas and coastal regions (C. A. Brebbia & P. Anagnostopoulos, Eds.), Journal of Computational Mechanics, Wessex Institute of Technology Press, 87-97.
- Smith, G.C., F. Roy, and B. Brasnett, 2013. Evaluation of an operational ice–ocean analysis and forecasting system for the Gulf of St Lawrence. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 139(671) Part B: 419-433.
The St. Lawrence Global Observatory team maintains and operates the OGSL portal, including the Ocean Forecasts Website, during regular business hours. The OGSL has put in place a monitoring system in order to be notified of any Internet service interruption and has established procedures to ensure that the necessary actions are taken no later than the following business day.
Databases accessible through the OGSL portal are the responsibility of data producers, who ensure their maintenance and take the necessary actions should any interruption occur.
Some products and services are only available during specified periods. In these cases, the availability periods are clearly indicated on the site, e.g., Sea Ice Forecast.