Argo world 

WOCE

The origins of Argo can be found in the 1990-1997 World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE). WOCE is part of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and set out to collect an unprecedented set of observations.

WOCE needed to collect data on ocean currents at about 1000m throughout the oceans. To do this Russ Davis from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California and Doug Webb of Webb Research Corporation developed the Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer (ALACE). (Davis, 1991, Davis et al. 1992). ALACE floats used the principle of neutral buoyancy invented by John Swallow in the mid 1950s to follow the currents at a particular pressure level. (Swallow, 1955). (Information on the history of the development and use of neutrally buoyant floats can be found at Southampton Oceanography Centre and at the University of Rhode Island)

Each ALACE float rose to the sea surface at regular intervals to allow its position to be fixed by satellite. About 1000 ALACE-type floats were deployed by WOCE. (The data from these floats is available online)

It was soon realised that as they rose to the surface the ALACEs could also measure the temperature and salinity of the water through which they rose and towards the end of WOCE most of the ALACEs carried temperature/salinity sensors. They became Profiling ALACE (PALACE) floats. (Davis et al 2001).

Potential for Profiling Floats

Two documents prepared simultaneously in 1998 by Dean Roemmich of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Ray Schmitt of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explore the potential of using profiling floats to monitor the ocean.

  • " A Proposal for Global Ocean Observations for Climate: the Array for Real-time Geostrophic Oceanography (ARGO)" (Roemmich)
  • " A program for Global Ocean SAlinity MonitORing (GOSAMOR)" (Schmitt)

Early in 1998, the International Steering Team for GODAE endorsed the broad concept of a global array of profiling floats and undertook to develop a plan. CLIVAR also considered these two proposals and gave them high priority in its implementation plan.

A scientific team came together under the chairmanship of Dean Roemmich and prepared two documents on Argo:

Thus the Argo project was born.


References

• Davis, R.E. 1991: Observing the general circulation with floats. Deep-Sea Research, 38(Suppl. 1), 531-571.
Davis, R.E., D.C. Webb, L.A. Regier and J. Dufour, 1992: The Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer
(ALACE). J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 9, 264-285.
• Davis, R.E., J.T. Sherman and J. Dufour, 2001: Profiling ALACEs and other advances in autonomous subsurface
floats. J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., Boston, MA. 18, 982-993.
• Swallow, J.C., 1955: A neutral-buoyancy float for measuring deep currents. Deep-Sea Research, 3, 74-81.)

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