Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program


The Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program was implemented in 1998 with the aim of collecting and analyzing the biological, chemical, and physical data to detect and monitor seasonal and interannual variability in eastern Canadian waters. The AZMP aims to increase the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans capacity to understand, describe, and forecast the state of the ocean environment and marine ecosystem and to relate those changes to the predator-prey relationships of marine resources. The AZMP has established sampling protocol and visits fixed sites and transects intraannually. Established data sets will: (1) track and predict changes in productivity and ocean state; (2) respond to immediate questions posed by clients; (3) alert clients to short- and long-term environmental/ecosystem changes; and (4) provide adequate historical databases to address future issues. Plankton Data is made available at OBIS. The OBIS compiled data includes species name, individual count, lat/lon, and some environmental correlates like depth and salinity. 

Dataset Location: OBIS Maritime Plankton Dataset, OBIS Quebec Region Plankton Dataset

Direct Download: OBIS Maritime Plankton Dataset, OBIS Quebec Region Plankton Dataset

Linked Datasets from Canadian Oceanographic and Monitoring Data: Hydrographic (Depth) Data; Oceanographic, Ice, Freshwater, and Atmospheric Climate Indicies; Plankton Net and Bottle (likely similar to OBIS Plankton Data); Continuous Plakton Recorder; Water Levels; Remote Sensing (i.e., ocean color and surface temp); Meteorological Data

Site Location: Northwest Atlantic Maritime and Quebec Region (separate datasets)

Site(s) Georeferenced: Yes

Timespan: 1899 - 2010, most since 1999

Sampling Frequency: fixed stations, ~ every two weeks; section transects, 1-3 times per year

Data Collection Summary / Methods: Plankton Data sampling is primarily conducted through towing of plankton nets from ships.

From AZMP Overview: "The sampling regime is based on: (1) seasonal and/or opportunistic sampling along eleven sections (with individual stations spaced from 20 to 40 km apart) to obtain information on the variability of the physical environment for the whole northwest Atlantic region; (2) higher frequency temporal sampling (biological, chemical, and physical variables) at six accessible fixed sites to monitor the smaller time scale dynamics in representative areas; and (3) remote sensing of physical (SST) and biological (chlorophyll) variables to provide a broader spatial coverage and to increase our capacity to interpret ocean data (e.g., interpolation or synoptic capacity of site-specific field data), complemented by (4) data coming from other existing monitoring programs (e.g., Continuous Plankton Recorder) and other types of available data (e.g., meteorological data) that have been supplemented with oceanographic observations. In addition to the above, existing regional ecosystem trawl (groundfish) surveys and other ship-of-opportunity cruises acquire data over broad areas of the continental shelf and slope at a minimal increased cost for the monitoring program." (Therriault et al. 1998)

From Sampling Protocol (Mitchell et al. 2002. Atlantic Zonal Monitoring Program sampling protocol. Can. Tech. Rep. Hydrogr. Ocean Sci. 223: iv + 23 pp.):Minimum sampling requirements at recording stations and transects include CTD vertical profile, nutrients (NO3, PO4, SiO3), chlorophyll-a extraction, phytoplankton cell count, dissolved oxygen, salinity, zooplankton net vertical tow, and Secchi depth

Data collected: OBIS Plankton: species name, individual count, date, location, temperature, depth, salinity, nitrogen, oxygen, silicate

Key Variables from AZMP Overview:

"Biological: The key biological variables are those that describe important changes in ecosystem productivity or shifts in ecosystem structure over time. They include bulk variables (e.g., chlorophyll a, zooplankton biomass) and those that indicate changes in community structure (e.g., species composition).

"Chemical: Key chemical variables measure some important component of the environmental conditions that could or does show variability on seasonal to decadal time scales and has some direct or indirect link to ecosystem. Two chemical variables meet these criteria: nutrients (phosphate, nitrate, and silicate) and oxygen.
"Physical: The key physical variables allow for a quantitative description of the water mass structure in the Atlantic region on seasonal to decadal time scales. The fundamental measurements of temperature and salinity coupled with sea level allow derivation of currents and transport through standard techniques and numerical modeling. Associated variables include ice and freshwater runoff, which primarily affect ocean stratification and salinity, and meteorological variables, which affect current, stratification, and water properties." (Therriault et al. 1998)

Known Issues: To obtain this dataset you must use the interactive data mapper and make multiple clicks to orient and dowload data. May be difficult to locate quickly or with an automated program.

Best Practices: Can be used with other Canadian Oceanographic and Monitoring Data.
Conditions for use: 'freely available' and 'open-access' as per OBIS:

Citation/ Distributing Author:  Kennedy, M.K. and J.A. Spry. 2011 Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program Maritimes Region plankton datasets. In: Fisheries and Oceans Canada - BioChem archive. OBIS Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2011, Version 1, Digital. Retrieved from
Supplemental resources: Research Proposal (Therriault et al. 1998. Proposal for a northwest Atlantic zonal monitoring program. Can. Tech. Rep. Hydrogr. Ocean Sci. 194: vii+57pp.)

AZMP Social Media & Apps at Canada Open Data

Available via the EcoData Retriever: No

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