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Click on map area for enlargement and Argo UK data
N. Atlantic, S. Atlantic, N. Indian, S. Indian, N. Pacific, S. Pacific
N_Atlantic S_Atlantic N_Indian S_Indian N_Pacific S_Pacific

Data source: ftp://ftp.jcommops.org/Argo/Status/status.txt (updated daily)

Argo Overview

Argo is a global array of temperature/salinity profiling floats that is building up to become a major part of the system to routinely observe the physical characteristics (temperature, salinity, currents) of the ocean. The first Argo deployment began in 2000 and by April 2002 had grown to almost 400 floats. Argo complements other upper-ocean thermal data from Volunteer Observing Ships (VOS) using XBT probes. (For further information see the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate and Scientific Design of GOOS and GCOS.) These are confined to major shipping routes which are often dictated by season. Argo is free of such constraints and extends the spatial and temporal coverage, the depth range (upper 2000m rather than 750m) and the accuracy of temperature measurements. It also provides salinity and velocity measurements. The name Argo is chosen to emphasise the strong complementary relationship of the global float array with the Jason altimeter mission. For the first time, the physical state of the upper ocean will be systematically measured and these data will be assimilated into models to provide ocean state estimates in near real-time.

Argo has several objectives:

  • It will provide a quantitative description of the state of the upper ocean and the patterns of ocean climate variability, including heat and freshwater storage and transport.
  • The data will enhance the value of the Jason altimeter through measurement of subsurface temperature, salinity and velocity, with sufficient coverage and resolution for interpretation of altimetric sea surface height variability.
  • Argo data will be used for initialising ocean and coupled ocean-atmosphere forecast models, for data assimilation and for model testing.
  • A primary focus of Argo is seasonal to decadal climate variability but a wider range of applications for high-quality global ocean analyses is anticipated.

The initial design of the Argo network was based on experience from the present observing system, on newly gained knowledge of variability from the TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter, and on perceived requirements for climate research and for the validation of high-resolution ocean models. When fully implemented Argo will provide 100,000 T/S profiles and reference velocity measurements per year from about 3000 floats distributed over the global oceans at 3-degree spacing. Floats will cycle to 2000 m depth every 10 days, with a 4-5 year lifetime for individual instruments. All Argo data are publicly available in near real-time via the GTS, and in scientifically quality-controlled form with a few months delay.

Global coverage should be achieved during the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment , (which together with CLIVAR and the Global Climate and Global Ocean Observing Systems (GCOS/GOOS), provide the major scientific and operational impetus for Argo.

International planning for Argo, including sampling and technical issues, is coordinated by the Argo Science Team. Nations that have already deployed floats are Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russian Federation, United Kingdom & United Startes.

Argo Objectives

1. To provide a quantitative description of the evolving state of the upper ocean and the pattern of ocean climate variability, including heat and freshwater storage and transport.

2. To enhance the value of the Jason altimeter through measurement of the subsurface temperature & salinity structure and reference velocity, with sufficient coverage and resolution for interpretation of altimetric sea surface height variability.

3. To provide data for initialisation of ocean and coupled forecast models, data assimilation and dynamical model testing.

4. Assessment of seasonal and decadal climate variability and predictability.

Profiling floats at SOC


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Alex Sen-Gupta alexg@maths.unsw.edu.au
Last Modified: 30/04/02
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