The overall objective of the project is to improve the European contribution to the international Argo observing system and to prepare the next scientific and operational challenges for in-situ monitoring of the world ocean. The main objective is to prepare the evolutions of Argo floats for the next decade: improved reliability and life time, telecommunication capabilities, biogeochemical observations, deeper measurements, under ice operations in the polar seas, sampling of marginal seas. All these evolutions are essential to improve our knowledge on the role of ocean on climate and for operational oceanography (GMES Marine Service) and its applications.
Impacts and Benefits
The science of climate dynamics and climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our century. Understanding and predicting changes in both the atmosphere and the ocean are needed to guide international actions and to optimize governments' policies. In-situ observations are indispensable to implement a comprehensive Global Observing system by combining space-based systems measuring surface properties with float technology giving access to property changes of the ocean interior. In-situ and satellite data are now routinely assimilated in ocean models to elaborate ocean products. At European level, GMES Marine Service (MyOcean and MyOcean2) provides in real time or in delayed mode (re-analyses) integrated description and short-term forecast of the ocean state to serve a wide range of applications:
- marine environment monitoring
- weather forecasting
- maritime safety and pollution forecasting
- national security
- the oil & gas industry
- fisheries management and coastal and shelf-sea forecasting
- ocean, climate, and ecosystem research
Argo is now the single most important in-situ observing system for operational oceanography and the GMES Marine Service. The implementation of Argo results from an outstanding international cooperation, with more than 30 countries involved in the development and maintenance of the array. To strengthen, consolidate and integrate their efforts and contributions to the Argo program, several European countries are collaborating and have agreed to join in the establishment of a new European legal entity: the Euro-Argo ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium). The main challenges for Argo and Euro-Argo are:
- to maintain the global array and ensure its long term sustainability
- to prepare the next phase of Argo with an extension towards biogeochemistry, the polar oceans, the marginal seas and the deep ocean.
Meeting such challenges is essential for the long term sustainability and evolution of the GMES Marine Service. It requires major improvements in Argo float technology, which will be soon available from float manufacturers. They require, however, extensive testing at sea before they can be used for operational monitoring. The Euro-Argo data centers need also to be upgraded so that they can handle these new floats. E-AIMS will organize an end-to-end evaluation of new Argo float technology (from float design down to their use). Observing System Evaluations and Sensitivity Experiments will also be conducted to provide robust recommendations for the next phase of Argo that take into account GMES Marine Service, seasonal/decadal climate forecasting and satellite validation requirements. E-AIMS will thus demonstrate the capability of the Euro-Argo infrastructure to conduct R&D driven by GMES needs and demonstrate that procurement, deployment and processing of floats for GMES can be organized at European level.
Several lines of technological R&D are proposed, involving the sensors and the observed variables, the operating environment, and the data transmission. Those activities will be conducted in the laboratory and in close interaction with European float manufacturers. Floats will be acquired and field tested at sea. The complete data system will be improved and evaluated as part of a real-time assessment. The following activities are planned:
- To conduct biogeochemical Argo experiments in the Atlantic and in the Nordic Sea and Black Sea to address climate relevant issues in marine biogeochemistry and the coupling between physics and biology. Additional parameters of high priority include chlorophyll-a (a proxy for phytoplankton biomass), dissolved oxygen (a key parameter to characterize the health of the ocean), nitrate (the primary source of new nitrogen) and particle carbon (relates to the quantity of living and dead matter).
- Evaluate and further improve new float technology for observations deeper (3500-4000 meter) than the nominal 2000 meter presently reached. Deeper measurements are needed to constrain the deep ocean property fields for climate monitoring and long term prediction. Deeper measurements will also improve our ability to assess global sea level changes and climate related signals.
- Develop specifications and algorithms (sea ice detection and positioning) and testing of floats to extent the array into the seasonal ice zones and marginal seas of European interest (Nordic, Mediterranean and Black seas).
- Improve performance of Argo floats while maintaining low communication and hardware costs and perform field tests (Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean). Performance improvements include new telecommunication systems (Argos-3 and Iridium) and increase bandwidth, addition of new sensors, improved surface layer sampling, enhanced vertical resolution, migrate the grounding problem in marginal seas.
- Conduct R&D on the next generation of Argo profiling floats and demonstrate several major innovations on Argo float technology in a complete real time assessment, from in-situ observations to the availability of the data for operational centers, after reception, processing and validation by the Euro-Argo data centers.
- The Calibration/Validation activities address the evolving requirements brought about by new satellite missions, and the necessity to elaborate high level products which take full account of, and merge, the accuracy and sampling characteristics of the different observing systems. They will also contribute to the definition of the future extended Argo missions.
The work plan is structured along 6 work-packages (WP) and 25 tasks:
- WP1 concerns the management of the project.
- WP2 will cover float technology R&D activities and will organize the in depth evaluation of new generation Argo floats.
- WP3 and WP4 will provide a summary of initial and future requirements for Argo for the GMES Marine Service, seasonal/decadal climate forecasting (WP3) and satellite Cal/Val activities (WP4). Impact and design studies will then be carried out to propose robust and quantitative recommendations for the evolution of Argo.
- WP5 concerns the evolution of Euro-Argo data centres so that they can handle the new Argo floats. WP5 will also develop and test delayed mode QC methodologies for oxygen and biogeochemical floats that will be used in WP2.
- WP6 will cover float data processing in real time and delivered/used by MyOcean (GMES Marine Service) and satellite Cal/Val teams. WP6 will also include the synthesis of results (long term roadmap of Euro-Argo to better serve GMES).
- WP7 is the scientific and technical project coordination.
- WP8 includes communication and dissemination activities of the project.