WHOI deploys Argo floats


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has partnered with other organizations to launch 100 new Argo floats across the Atlantic Ocean to collect ocean, weather, and climate data for research and prediction, according to a press release.

Argo floats are oceanographic instruments that observe the world’s oceans and collect data for scientists. The floats are deployed at predefined GPS positions to both replace end-of-service floats and to establish new positions. Argo floats have an expected life of five years.

During a typical mission, each float reports a profile of the upper ocean every 10 days, transmitting data to shore by satellite.

“Argo has revolutionized our ability to detect and monitor how the global ocean is changing as climate changes,” said Peter de Menocal, president and director of WHOI. “The whole ocean warming trends observed by Argo floats are proof positive that climate change is due to greenhouse gas emissions.”

The low-carbon effort supports the International Argo Program, which maintains about 3,800 floats across the globe that measure pressure, temperature, and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean. 

The Argo floats are deployed by the French sailing vessel Iris. The vessel arrived in Woods Hole last week, after deploying 17 Argo floats across the Atlantic. Iris departed this week for its second leg in the South Atlantic, toward the Island of St. Helena off the coast of Namibia. 

WHOI partnered with the private oceanographic company Blue Observer, the International Argo Program, partners from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Europe.

“Coming at a moment when we need meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis, this low-carbon-emission research mission sets a strong example for future ocean-observing research,” Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator, said in the release. “This voyage is a model of global public-private partnership that is helping us improve data that drive lifesaving weather and climate forecasts.”