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Long Term Trends in Deep Water Properties of BC Inlets

The deep waters of inlets, i.e. those waters trapped behind the inlet's sill, are usually quiescent. Isolated from the annual and higher frequency variations present in the near surface waters, the deep waters provide a good sampling location for observing the long term changes in water properties (temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen). The deep waters chronicle the temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen properties of the outside waters.

The almost 50 year long time series of water properties from some inlets, more than 60 years in the case of Saanich Inlet, are potentially rich sources of information about our coastal environment and how it has changed in the last half century. This web site presents the time series of deep water properties from the better sampled inlets (Saanich Inlet, Indian Arm, Howe Sound, Jervis Inlet, Bute Inlet, Knight Inlet and Muchalat Inlet). The web site also provides basic physical, hydrologic and oceanographic information for the better sampled inlets.


Dr. George Pickard of the Institute of Oceanography at the University of British Columbia (UBC) initiated in 1951, and conducted for many years, a series of inlet cruises. The inlet cruises, conducted mostly in the summer, were used for studies of the BC fjords and also served as training exercises for oceanography students. Students obtained and analyzed water samples for temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen in many fjords, straits, passages and channels on the entire BC coast. The data set is a remarkably long (~ 50 years), high quality time series that spans the entire length of the mainland coast and Vancouver Island.

Several other researchers, notably Drs. John Tully and Mike Waldichuk, also conducted sampling programs in several BC inlets. Dr. Tully's work extends back to the 1930's, and Dr. Waldichuk conducted several pollution cruises in the 60's and 70's to inlets where there were pulp mills. In the last 25 years, the fjord research at Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) has provided extensive sets of observations from several fjords, in particular Knight, Saanich and Alberni Inlets. All of the IOS data sets and most, but not all, of the early inlet and coastal water surveys are now preserved in digital form in the IOS data archive.