Investigation of the California Undercurrent off the west coast of Vancouver Island




Krassovski, Maxim

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Current meter records from a long term mooring site on the continental slope off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada are used to investigate the scales of variability of the subsurface California Undercurrent and its relation to possible driving mechanisms. Observed along the west coast of North America from Baja California to Vancouver Island, the California Undercurrent is part of the California Current System, a typical basin-scale eastern boundary circulation system. Of the four instruments at nominal depths of 35, 100, 175, and 400 m, the upper two show seasonally reversing flow, while the 175 m instrument registers a year-round poleward flow. The deepest current meter, located approximately 100 m above the bottom, reflects the influence of a nearby submarine canyon. The flow at 100 and 175 m depths, as well as the water properties sampled in the region with CTD casts, are characteristic of the temporal and spatial variability of the California Undercurrent over the continental slope off central and southern Vancouver Island. The correlation of the 175 m flow with local atmospheric forcing (wind stress) in the low-frequency band (periods of months) is higher than with ocean-wide climatic indices, suggesting that regional processes play a key role in the forcing of the subsurface flow.



California Undercurrent, eastern boundary current, continental slope, West Coast of Vancouver Island, upwelling circulation, slope currents