The Argo Programme

The Argo programme has literally changed the way we view our oceans.

Before the Argo programme started in 2002, to take subsurface measurements of temperature and salinity in the remote parts of the world's oceans a large, expensive, specialised research vessel, with a highly trained crew was required.  This means that some parts of the ocean got sampled once per decade, or perhaps never got sampled. 

It was impossible to fully understand our ocean when we had no data over large vast regions.  As the Southern Hemisphere (and particularly the South Pacific) are far from where these ships usually operate, we had very little data on the subsurface ocean around many of the Pacific Islands.

The Argo programme consists of over 3,000 floats which drift around the ocean at 1,000m depth.  Every 10 days, the floats sink down to 2,000m, then slowly float back to the surface while recording the ocean temperature and salinity.  When the float finally reaches the surface, it finds it's location using a GPS, then radios its data back to shore via a satellite.

The quality of the data is checked, then the data is stored in a database and made Argo Data Online.

Argo provides us with over 9,000 profiles of temperature and salinity each month.  But what is more important, is that the data from Argo is spread over almost all the world's oecans.

The Pacific Marine Atlas provides an easy way to investigate the data from the Argo Programme.

Recent Argo Related News
A June 2012 press release describes the Argo programme and some floats being deployed near Kiribati. 

Dr. Gregory Johnson, an Oceanographer at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) was interviewed on the Radio Australia Pacific Beat programme about the Argo Programme.