WHOI Contribution ARGO Float Program (2010-2011)

Breck 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 real-time 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 to the final year of the current five-year U.S, Argo Float program consortium effort that started July 1, 2006. 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 95 floats, (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, and (6) float development and improvement in reliability.