Euro-Argo - Towards a Sustainable European Contribution to Argo
The Argo network is a global array of autonomous instruments 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 2000 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.
Argo sampling provides critical long term data on seasonal and inter-annual variability of the global ocean circulation. Through Argo the systematic estimation of the heat and fresh water budgets (storage, transport, and atmospheric fluxes) is now possible. Argo is strongly complementary to satellite observations where float data can be used to ground truth satellite data. The Argo data are readily assimilated with those from satellites into ocean circulation and climate models, in support of research and operational applications. The proposed contribution to the Argo array is integrated into the Copernicus programme and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Image courtesy of http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/
Euro-Argo was funded through the EU 7th Framework Research programme from 2008 - 2010. Twelve European countries are involved: France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Spain, Bulgaria, Norway and Poland with more countries expected to join the infrastructure in the coming years. The objective of Euro-Argo is to develop a European "infrastructure" for Argo to a level where the European partners have the capacity to procure and deploy about 250 floats per year, to monitor these floats and ensure all data is processed and delivered to users (both in real-time and delayed-mode). With an average float lifetime of 4 to 5 years, such a European contribution would support approximately a quarter of the global array and provide an additional 50 floats per year to enhance coverage in the European and marginal seas.
Ireland and Euro-Argo
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, a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), the Marine Institute, as Ireland's representative, 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 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.
In 2017 the Marine Institute deployed two floats in the South Rockall Trough on 10th and 11th February during the Ocean Climate survey and one float in the Porcupine Abyssal Plain on 20th May during the Go-Ship A02 transatlantic survey all from the R.V. Celtic Explorer.
Argo float deployed from the R.V. Celtic Explorer on 10th February 2017 during the Ocean Climate Survey - photo by Tomasz Szumski
Of the current fleet, Ireland has 11 operational floats made up of 8 APEX and 3 ARVOR floats which have an average float lifetime of 4 to 5 years. The graph below shows the age distribution of the current fleet.
Irish Operational Float Age Distribution (Above): Shows the number of operational Irish floats (y-axis = # floats) and how long they have been collecting data in the ocean (x-axis = age in years).
The Marine Institute will procure four Argo floats for 2018 along with Ireland’s first Biogeochemical (BGC) float. For further information on float locations and access to float data please visit Irelands’ Digital Ocean at www.digitalocean.ie.
More information on Argo floats and Euro-Argo can be found at the following links: