(Ed. note: Thanks to colleague and regular gCaptain commenter, Capt. Jack Richards pointing me to information on Argo.)

Brief History of Argo

The name Argo was chosen to emphasize the strong complementary relationship of the global float array with the Jason satellite altimeter mission. In Greek mythology Jason sailed in a ship called “Argo” to capture the golden fleece.

Argo float deployment from a research ship
An Argo float being deployed from a research ship.

Together the Argo and Jason data sets will be assimilated into computer models developed by project GODAE (Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment) that will allow a test of our ability to forecast ocean climate. For the first time, the physical state of the upper ocean is being systematically measured and the data assimilated in near real-time into computer models. Argo builds on other upper-ocean ocean observing networks, extending their coverage in space an time, their depth range and accuracy, and enhancing them through the addition of salinity and velocity measurements. Argo is not confined to major shipping routes which can vary with season as the other upper-ocean observing networks are. Instead, the global array of 3,000 floats will be distributed roughly every 3 degrees (300km).

Comprised of three subsystems:

  1. Hydraulics: control buoyancy adjustment via an inflatable external bladder, so the float can surface and dive.
  2. Microprocessors: deal with function control and scheduling.
  3. Data transmission system: controls communication with satellite.

Approx. Weight: 25 Kg
Max. operating depth: 2000m
Crush depth: 2600m

The three float models in use are the PROVOR built by MARTEC in France in close collaboration with IFREMER, the APEX float produced by Webb Research Corporation, USA and the SOLO float designed and built by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA.

You can find more details at Argo’s website, here.

Related Seattle Times article, here.

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This post was written by Richard Rodriguez, Rescue Tug Captain, and US Coast Guard approved instructor for License Training. You can read more of his articles at the BitterEnd of the net.

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