The objective of this research is to describe physical processes which are the cause of the recent variability of the Pacific western subarctic waters. Rapid thermohaline changes have occurred within the Oyashio and Kamchatka Current during the last decade. This variability has included a warming of the Kamchatka Current warm intermediate layer, but a cooling and freshening of the upper layer in the Oyashio and Sea of Okhotsk. The example presented here uses data obtained during the Canada/Russia INPOC and WOCE projects, as well as the new Russian studies with high resolution station grid. The possible physical mechanism that generated the upper layer freshening during the thermohaline transition is examined. Major components of the fresh water budget of the Okhotsk Sea are considered in order to describe the dramatic changes in salinity which have recently occurred in the Pacific subarctic. Significant changes in precipitation and other fresh water inputs are demonstrated. It is suggested that upper layer of the Oyashio and Kamchatka Current became cooler and fresher because of the export of cold, fresher waters from the Bering and Okhotsk seas. These waters from the marginal seas have cooled the bottom of the halocline, reducing evaporation and acting as a feedback that has kept the upper layer of the western subarctic boundary currents fresh. It is also shown that the outflow of the cold Sea of Okhotsk water has changed its path during this recent thermohaline transition.