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ARGO Program

 

 

 

 

ARGO, a revolution for the international oceanographic community

 

A BRIEF HISTORY

While the first attempts of autonomous underwater robots started from the 1950s, the international ARGO program  (www.argo.net) is born in the early 2000s. The first objective of the project was to deploy and maintain in operation 3000 robotic devices (further called profiling floats) to measure the temperature and salinity of the first 2000 meters of the ocean.

A profiling float is equipped with a battery, which assures it a lifespan of approximately four years. A complex internal mechanics and sensors allow it profiling up and down between depths and the surface, while measuring ocean parameters (pressure, temperature and conductivity typically). In addition with a storage data space, an onboard computer software finally reminds the float all its mission parameters, with the emergency procedures to be adopted in some situations.

 

2001-2007 : CORE ARGO, THE FIRST STAGE

Autonomous underwater robot released from a ship at the surface water, the ARGO float is thus programmed to first dive at 1000 meters depth, and then drift over time and currents. Ten days after, it dives again at 2000 meters depths, and slowly ascent to the surface by measuring temperature and salinity. Data are then transmitted by satellite, and the float can dive again for a new ten-days cycle.

Schematic representation of an ARGO float cycle © IFREMER :

 

Since 2001 and this first stage, ARGO achieved its goal of deploying 3000 floats on all the oceans at the 31/10/2007. The millionth profile has been collected at the 6/12/2012.

The 26/05/2014, 3560 profiling floats make the ARGO network , with about 120.000 new profiles collected per year.

Status of the ARGO network at the 25/05/2014 ©AIC (one point per float delivering data during the last 30 days) :

 

ARGO, REVOLUTION AND EVOLUTIONS

Argo is an international project where scientists and agencies from 30 different countries cooperate today. The ARGO network became a real revolution for the international oceanographic community, as it allows a free access of real-time in-situ data, for the first time uniformly distributed over the Earth's surface, with an average of one float per oceanic square of 3 degrees. Data covering all seasons, and even at high latitudes which are more difficult to be reached by boat, especially in winter.

This unique oceanic view in 3-dimensions became a necessary addition to subsurface data collected from ships during hydrographic cruises, and to satellite surface data. But since 2007 and the achievement of this first stage, the ARGO community is organized to address two essential issues :

1)- make the network durable : many global or regional consortiums join their efforts to reach a lowest objective to deploy 800 floats per year : CORIOLIS for France, Euro-ARGO for Europe, and the regional ROOS projects (IBI-ROOS, NOOS, MONGOOS etc...).

2)- answer to new scientific issues and new challenges such as :

Since 2001, thanks to its professional team expert for the développement of new profilers technologies, NKE assist the ARGO community for developing and maintaining the network, in order to contribute to answer to new coming scientific, economic and societal issues.

 

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