The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its partners have begun launching about 100 new data collection floats across the Atlantic Ocean.
The “Argo floats” will bolster the international Argo Program, which maintains a global array of about 3,800 floats that measure pressure, temperature and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) of the ocean.
The French sailing vessel Iris deployed the initial batch of 17 Argo floats across the Atlantic in December. The mission is one of the largest Argo float deployments in the Atlantic and is expected to last almost 100 days at sea, filling in crucial observing gaps.
According to NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad:
“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. This voyage is a model of global public-private partnership that is helping us improve data that drive life-saving weather and climate forecasts.”
During what is one of the largest missions by a sailboat to deploy profiling floats, the S/V Iris crew will deliver Argo floats to predefined GPS positions, replacing those at the end of their lives, and deploying floats in some new, under-measured regions to strengthen the Argo array. The mission lifetime of each float is about five years. During a typical mission, each float reports a profile of the upper ocean every ten days, transmitting data to shore by satellite.