What are the different uses of Argo data?
Profiling float data have an enormous range of applications. As the float array
grows and Argo data become more and more abundant there is an increasing body of
scientific literature based wholly or partly on Argo. Argo maintains a
peer- reviewed papers that refer to Argo floats. Additionally, many new research
papers are in preparation (
papers in press) or about to be published. Early applications of Argo data
were highlighted in Argo's
First Science Workshop held in Tokyo in November 2003. More recent applictions
of Argo data were presented at the
Second Argo Science Workshop in Venice in March 2006. The
Third Argo Science
Workshop was held in Hangzhou, China in March 2009.
Argo data use falls into three main categories: educational uses, operational uses
and research uses. Read the synopsis of each category and follow the links to more
Argo data are easy to access and are truly global. Their relevance to climate
issues such as global warming that have great socio-economic relevance makes
Argo an ideal vehicle through which to highlight the importance of the oceans
to the general public and particularly to schools. The
Educational use page highlights
the three main focuses of Argo education and outreach: curriculum for
classroom use, outreach workshops for scientists, and online tools for the general
Centers in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, the UK and the USA routinely
produce global and regional analyses of subsurface properties using the Argo data
stream. These are available on the world wide web (see the
Operational Centers page) and will give early warning of significant
temperature and salinity anomalies and changes in ocean circulation.
In the Gulf of Alaska and around Japan, Argo data are being used to aid the
monitoring of environmental conditions that affect fish stocks and biological
Each summer the UK Met Office issues a forecast of conditions for the following
winter based on the subsurface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. Argo data
now allow these forecasts to be made with greater confidence.
At short time scales, Argo data have been used to study the evolution of
near-surface temperature and salinity beneath tropical cyclones. The data show
clear temperature differences left and right of the cyclone track, but produce
conflicting patterns of salinity change. Monsoons and ENSO events dominate the
low-latitude seasonal/inter-annual ocean-atmosphere variability. Argo data,
when combined with TAO/Triton tropical buoy array data, extend the mapping of
tropical Pacific Ocean structures, and are also used in ENSO forecast systems.
Argo profiles have also revealed the Arabian Sea space-time response during the
summer monsoons of 2002 and 2003.
Many results focused on exploration of the circulation and the definition of
the properties and abundance of winter-formed mode waters in mid-latitude
ocean basins. This could even be done in areas such as the Okhotsk Sea, where
there is extensive ice cover in some years. Twelve operational analysis
/forecast centers routinely use Argo data, and through GODAE, are routinely
producing ocean state products. Improvements in ocean predictions from
assimilating Argo data were demonstrated at the workshop. These give an
exciting foretaste of the likely impact of the full Argo array when combined
with remote sensing data.
With over 3200 floats reporting and more than 10,000 profiles per month
being delivered from the Argo array, never before have oceanographers and
climate scientists had such a comprehensive subsurface ocean data set.
Over 200 research papers per year are now being published using Argo data
covering a broad range of topics including water mass properties and formation,
air-sea interaction, ocean circulation, mesoscale eddies, ocean dynamics,
seasonal-to-decadal variability, and global change analysis.
A key objective of Argo is to observe ocean signals related to climate change.
This includes regional and global changes in ocean temperature and heat content,
salinity and freshwater content, the steric height of the sea surface in relation
to total sea level and large-scale ocean circulation.
The global Argo dataset is not yet long enough to observe global change signals.
Seasonal and interannual variability dominate the present 10-year
globally-averaged time series. Sparse global sampling during 2004-2005 can lead
to substantial differences in statistical analyses of ocean temperature and
trend (or steric sea level and its trend, e.g. Leuliette and Miller, 2009).
Analyses of decadal changes presently focus on comparison of Argo to sparse and
sometimes inaccurate historical data. Argo's greatest contributions to observing
the global oceans are still in the future, but its global span is clearly
transforming the capability to observe climate-related changes.