What is Argo?

Argo is an array of 3,000 free drifting floats distributed throughout the world’s ice-free oceans. Each float is able to regulate its buoyancy, allowing it to sink, drift at depth and rise to the surface.

The floats operate a ‘park and profile’ mission cycle. During this cycle floats descend to a target depth of 1000 metres and drift for 9 days before descending again to 2000 metres to start a temperature and salinity profile during their ascent to the surface. Once at the surface the floats transmit their data back via satellite.

Schematic of the Argos float's park and profile mission cycle

Schematic of the Argos float's park and profile mission cycle

The floats measure the temperature, salinity and velocity (drift) of the upper ocean, which allows continuous monitoring of the physical properties of the ocean for the first time. These data are sent via satellites and made public within hours of collection.

Temperature cross-section reported by a single Argo float during it's 5 year drift

Temperature cross-section reported by a single Argo float during it's 5 year drift

The history of using neutrally buoyant floats spans over 50 years and float technology continues to be continually developed.

 

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