Euro-Argo - Towards a Sustainable European Contribution to Argo
The Argo network is a global array of autonomous floats or profilers, deployed across the world's oceans, reporting subsurface ocean water properties to a wide range of users via satellite transmission links to data centres. Argo floats measure temperature and salinity from the upper 2,000 m of the ocean and these two essential climate variables describe the oceans’ physical and thermodynamic state. The Argo array is an indispensable component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) required to understand and monitor the role of the ocean in the Earth’s climate system, in particular the heat and water balance. The international Argo programme currently has a network of approximately 4,000 Argo floats taking measurements in the world’s oceans and is integrated into the Copernicus programme and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Image courtesy of the Euro-Argo ERIC Office
The Euro-Argo European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) was founded in 2014 and is a legal entity created by EU Member States allowing them to join their efforts to provide free and open data to climate research and operational oceanography, and to sustain 25% of Argo International’s global fleet of 4000 autonomous floats.
The Euro-Argo ERIC has implemented a float deployment strategy, which was developed with the input from the Member States, and coordinates the European contribution to the Argo network. It has increased sampling in areas of specific European interest e.g. marginal seas (Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea), and high latitudes (regions seasonally covered by sea ice e.g. Nordic Seas, the Arctic and Southern Oceans). It has also developed sensor and float technology e.g. deep Argo floats that profile down to abyssal depths and floats that measure biogeochemical parameters (e.g. oxygen, pH, nitrate, chlorophyll-a, suspended particles, and downwelling irradiance). The ERIC office has developed a web-based at-sea monitoring system capable of monitoring the entire European fleet and individual floats. These activities are performed in collaboration with both the Argo Information Centre (AIC) and the Coriolis Data Centre.
In 2007, Ireland became a member of the Argo programme and a partner in the Euro-Argo Preparatory Phase. Twelve floats were initially procured through a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant, four of which were deployed in March of 2008 from the R.V Thalassa, since then Ireland has continued to deploy Argo floats.
The Marine Institute uses Argo data to validate ROMS models in the Oceanographic Services section and a new robust model validation regime was set up in 2015. The performance of the Marine Institute’s Northeast Atlantic Operational Numerical Model is routinely validated against real-world measurements from Argo floats in conjunction with CTD profiles and satellite microwave sea surface data.
Ireland, through the Marine Institute, and facilitated by support from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), was granted full membership to the Euro-Argo ERIC in 2016. Through its participation in Euro-Argo ERIC, the Marine Institute has joined key players in the international global Earth observation and monitoring effort. The Marine Institute's participation in the Euro-Argo ERIC allows Ireland to build national capacity in the ocean observation sphere and to leverage substantial opportunities in Horizon2020 e.g. Euro-Argo RISE and other EU research and infrastructure funding mechanisms. It also places Ireland at the centre of global efforts to address the potential impacts of climate change.
The Marine Institute deployed Ireland's first Argo float as a full member of the Euro-Argo ERIC on the 23rd March 2016 from the R.V. Celtic Explorer during the Blue Whiting Survey in the North Atlantic with three more floats deployed in the North Rockall Trough and Mid-Atlantic during that year. Ireland has continued to commit to deploying three floats every year with more floats being deployed in 2017 (Go-Ship A02 transatlantic survey), 2018 and 2019. A Marine Institute Argo float was deployed in December 2019 en route from the Cape Verde Islands to French Guiana by the Quinlan-Owens family from Galway aboard their yacht, Danu. Further information on that deployment can be found here. As part of the Marine Institute’s participation in the Euro-Argo ERIC programme, 20 Argo floats have been deployed by the Marine institute in the North Atlantic over the last 10 years.
Argo float deployed from the R.V. Celtic Explorer on 10th February 2017 during the Ocean Climate Survey - photo by Tomasz Szumski
Ireland’s Digital Ocean is a portal to data collected in and around Ireland’s maritime zone. It collects data and information provided by a number of organisations into one place. The development of this website has been funded by the Marine Institute. For further information on float locations and access to float data please visit Irelands’ Digital Ocean at www.digitalocean.ie.
Ireland’s Digital Ocean displaying Irish Argo float locations and float data.
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