[en] Time series of wind-stress data, AVHRR and SeaWiFS satellite images, and in situ data from seven cruises are used to assemble a coherent picture of the hydrographic variability of the seas off the Northwest Iberian Peninsula from the onset (September-October) to the cessation (February-May) of the Portugal coastal counter current (PCCC). During this period the chemistry and the biology of the shelf, slope and ocean waters between 40degrees and 43degreesN have previously been undersampled. Novel information extracted from these observations relate to: 1. The most frequent modes of variability of the alongshore coastal winds, covering event, seasonal and long-term scales; 2. The conspicuous cycling between stratification and homogenisation observed in PCCC waters, which has key implications for the chemistry and biology of these waters; 3. The seasonal evolution of nitrite profiles in PCCC waters in relation to the stratification cycle; 4. The Redfield stoichiometry of the remineralisation of organic matter in Eastern North Atlantic Central Water (ENACW)-the water mass being transported by the PCCC; 5. The separation of coastal (mesotrophic) from PCCC (oligotrophic) planktonic populations by a downwelling front along the shelf, which oscillates to and fro across the shelf as a function of coastal wind intensity and continental runoff; and 6. The photosynthetic responses of the PCCC and coastal plankton populations to the changing stratification and light conditions from the onset to the cessation of the PCCC.