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a cold current in the northeast Pacific Ocean, the eastern periphery of the northern subtropical clockwise circulation of surface waters. It moves from the north to the south along California as the southern branch of the North Pacific Drift. In the south it passes into the North Equatorial Current. Width, 550-650 km; velocity, 1-2 km/hr. The mean water temperature in February varies from 12°C in the north to 25°C in the south; in August the respective figures are 17°C to 26°C. The salinity in the north is 33-34 parts per thousand.