WHOI Argo Float Program (2011-2014)

W. Brechner Owens,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Argo float program is a large international effort to quantitatively describe the changing
state of the upper ocean, above 2000 m depth, and the patterns of climate variability on seasonal
to inter-annual time scales. Combined with satellite altimetry and gravity missions, the Argo
float program is a critical component of the global ocean observing system, providing important
descriptions of the changes in heat and freshwater storage, circulation, and sea-level rise. There
are also a number of other applications for the high-quality Argo data set, including initialization
for seasonal to inter-annual predictions and regional and global analyses to understand the
processes that are responsible for these changes.
At present the International Argo float program maintains roughly 3000 active floats throughout
the global ocean. Given a mean lifetime of approximately four years, it is necessary to deploy
roughly 850 floats per year. For most of the array, these floats provide profiles of temperature
and salinity from the surface to 2000 m depth at ten day intervals. The data is posted in realtime
at both the two Global Data Acquisition Centers (GDACs) and onto the GTS system, which
is the primary portal for the data for real-time oceanographic and meteorological prediction
centers. The float data is delayed-mode quality controlled by the Argo float providers roughly
one year after the profiles are taken. This research quality data then replaces the real-time data at
the GDACs, which provides a global data set that is being used for climate change research.
This proposal is to cover the contributions from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution float
group for three years to U.S, Argo Float program consortium effort that starting July 1, 2011.
Woods Hole is responsible for approximately 10% if the global Argo float array. Activities that
will be carried out under this grant will include: (1) the manufacture and preparation for
deployment of 85 floats in year 1 and 100 floats in years 2 and 3, (2) continued delayed-mode
quality control of all the floats that have been produced by Woods Hole, (3) Continued
development of the best-practice methods for the delayed mode quality control, (4) participation
in International Argo Steering Team, the U.S. Argo Advisory Panel, and other management
activities associated with the functioning of the Argo Consortium, (5) participation in the
deployment of these floats, (6) float development and improvement in reliability and (7)
collaboration on the development of a deep Argo profiling float.