Thanks to an international collaboration of more than 25 countries between 2001 to 2014, the ARGO programme succeeded in setting up the first-ever global in-situ ocean observing network in the history of oceanography, based on autonomous profiling floats. 3000 floats had been deployed throughout the ice-free areas of the deep ocean, to measure temperature and salinity of the first 2000 meters.
Those floats beeing battery powered with a design life of between 4 to 5 years, there is a crucial necessity to maintain the target array. In that framework, the Euro-Argo program aims to provide a sustained contribution to ARGO by deploying 250 floats per year.
Since 2008 and after a 3-year successful preparatory phase, the new European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) is now able to take up this challenge by responding also to specific European interests for marginal seas and biogeochimical mesaurements.
Since the very concept of an ERIC is a new one, it will undoubtedly take some time to reach the full capacity and organization. Three stages from the end of the Preparatory Phase had been anticipated : a transition of a less than a year during 2011-2012, pending formal signature and approval from all the Members; a ramping up period of consolidation during 2012 and 2013 with funding mostly from Members and Projects (Sideri, E-aims) (Euro-Argo ERIC Phase 1), and a full operation from 2014 (Euro-Argo Phase 2) when funding from the EU (Copernicus, DG Mare) will bring operations to the expected level of some 250 floats deployed every year.
Euro-Argo ERIC –Phase 1 (Summer 2012-January 2014)
During this ramping up period, the number of floats to be handled, deployed and processed is not greater than what is handled by the national facilities. The need for specific logistical support at the ERIC is therefore not significant. The main activity is that of a Programme Office and coordination, including continuing efforts to develop and secure funding from the EU. The total budget is estimated to 270 Keuros/an. This will come from the agreed contributions from Euro-Argo ERIC members (30 keuros/year) and observers (10 keuros/year).
Euro-Argo ERIC Phase 2 (2014 and beyond) (full operation) :
It is expected that during that period, the funding from the EU (Copernicus, DG Mare or other sources) will increase very significantly the number of floats to be deployed, and, correspondingly, so will the requirements for support personnel and technical facilities in the central Research Insfrastructure. This additional funding from the EU (either FP7/FP8 or direct Copernicus funding) will contribute significantly to the Euro-Argo ERIC, allowing it to reach its full objectives of deploying 200 floats per year in support of the global Argo array plus an additional 50 floats per year for enhanced coverage in the seas in and around Europe. This operation would include the procurement, testing, and deployment of some 50-100 floats per year, with associated data management and quality control, and other scientific activities. At that point, the ERIC will reach its full capacity with up to 4 to 5 full time positions (funded by the Members and by the EU). Part of the EU funding would also be devoted to ship time, support to International Argo, funding for the data system to be redistributed to those members engaged in data management activities.