Final project results

Executive summary

The Copernicus/GMES Marine Service has set up a pan-European service for ocean monitoring and forecasting over the global ocean and European seas. In-situ and satellite observations are routinely assimilated in ocean models to provide in real time or in delayed mode integrated descriptions and short-term forecasts of the ocean physical and biogeochemical state. These core products serve a wide range of applications and users. The delivery of the Copernicus Marine Service strongly relies on the timely provision of both satellite and in-situ observations. While satellites provide a global view of the surface of the oceans, in-situ systems provide complementary data primarily by monitoring their interior. The Copernicus Marine Service has thus a very high dependency on in-situ observations. 

The international Argo programme is a major element of the global in-situ ocean observing system. More than 3500 floats are now globally measuring temperature and salinity throughout the deep global oceans, down to 2,000 meters and delivering data both in real time for operational users and after careful scientific quality control for climate change research and monitoring. Argo is the single most important in-situ observing system for the Copernicus Marine Service. It provides essential/critical data in near real time to constrain monitoring and forecasting centers and to validate satellite observations. The Euro-Argo research infrastructure organizes and federates European contribution to Argo. A legal and governance framework (Euro-Argo ERIC) was set up in May 2014; it allows European countries to consolidate and improve their contribution to Argo international. The main challenges for Argo and Euro-Argo are (1) to maintain the global array and ensure its long term sustainability and (2) prepare the next phase of Argo with an extension towards biogeochemistry (e.g. oxygen, biology), the polar oceans, the marginal seas and the deep ocean. Meeting such challenges is essential for the long term sustainability and evolution of the Copernicus Marine Service.  

In this context, the main objective of E-AIMS was to conduct R&D activities on Argo float technology, Argo data centers and the design of the new phase of Argo to better answer existing and future needs of the Copernicus Marine Service. E-AIMS organized an end-to-end evaluation of new Argo floats. Float characteristics were specified and float design or sensor adaptation activities were carried out. These new floats were ordered to float manufacturers, tested, deployed at sea and a detailed analysis of their data was carried out. European Argo data centers were, in parallel, adapted so that they can handle them (data processing, quality control, data distribution). Observing System Evaluations and Simulation Experiments were also conducted to provide robust recommendations for the next phase of Argo. A real time demonstration of the utility of these new floats for the Copernicus Marine Service was finally successfully carried out.  

E-AIMS thus demonstrated the capability of the Euro-Argo infrastructure to conduct R&D driven by Copernicus needs and demonstrated that procurement, deployment and processing of these new floats for Copernicus can be organized at European level. Impact on the Copernicus Marine Service was clearly evidenced. Both feasibility and utility aspects have thus been fully assessed. The Euro-Argo ERIC is now in an excellent position to agree on and start implementing the new phase of Argo that will be highly beneficial to the Copernicus Marine Service.

Potential impact and the main dissemination activities and the exploitation of results

The EEA GISC project and several international and European panels (e.g. the Global Ocean Observation System, GEOSS, the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment, EMODNET, EUROGOOS, Marine Board) have identified Argo as one of the highest priority in-situ observing system for the global ocean and GMES/Copernicus Marine Service. Our work plan was structured along several of the priorities identified by the GISC project as bridging the gap between research projects and operational GMES/Copernicus services and facilitating access to in-situ data in an integrated manner. It responded to the R&D priorities identified in the GISC report, i.e. development of new observation techniques, improvement in the infrastructure and data availability, quality and timeliness of in-situ data, calculation of uncertainties, simulation experiments to optimize network design. Suck in-situ R&D tasks are required so that benefits of the EU investments in the GMES/Copernicus Satellite and Marine Service components can be realized.

Enhanced GMES/Copernicus Marine Service and better use of satellite observations

E-AIMS designed, deployed and evaluated floats which are required for the evolution and future goals of GMES/Copernicus Marine Service, including new ocean variables, as well as increased accuracy, reliability and cost-effectiveness. The main impact of the E-AIMS work was on the development of enhanced GMES/Copernicus Marine Service, and hence on better products, information and services available for the downstream activities, including scientific use of its data sets. The involvement of the MyOcean and Copenicus Marine Service global and regional monitoring and forecasting centres ensured a full integration of the project R&D results into the operational systems. The real-time assessment organized in WP6 included a full-scale, end-to-end evaluation of this capability. The development of the use of Argo floats to calibrate/validate and complement satellite observations (sea-level, sea-surface temperature, salinity, ocean colour) also allowed us to improve the accuracy of satellite measurements, to quantify their uncertainties and to make a better use of satellite observations.

Instrumentation and SMEs

The R&D and tests on Argo floats (the diversity of sensors to be adapted to the instruments, the new communication capability, and the performance in deep and ice-covered seas) also had a positive impact on the research and development and commercial activities of the European companies manufacturing the instruments (the SMEs NKE in France and Optimare in Germany). The partners in WP2 also worked in close interaction with these two float manufacturers. New floats or prototypes were specified or pre-designed and ordered to them. They were then fully tested and feedbacks were given to float manufacturers. This will allow them to improve and develop their float product lines.

Socio-economic impacts

E-AIMS was elaborated to fulfil the requirements and priorities of monitoring programmes designed to support decision making in several key societal benefit areas (as identified, e.g. by GEOSS). Given the prominent role of Argo for climate change research, its contribution to, and impact for seasonal and decadal climate forecasting, socio-economic impacts of the E-AIMS activities are expected to be large on the longer run. Socio-economic impacts from Argo also include those to be handled through the Copernicus Marine Service (e.g. maritime transport, marine safety, fishery management, oil pollution monitoring and forecasting, and offshore industry). Investing in such global ocean observations has thus potentially a high benefits /costs ratio.

Main dissemination activities

Dissemination measures for the E-AIMS project included the following activities:

  • The first step for an effective exploitation of results was to ensure that E-AIMS float data were processed and quality controlled with state-of-the-art methodology and widely disseminated.  This was organized as part of WP5 tasks and the data management system was developed and tested in WP5 and fully demonstrated in WP6.  The use of new float technology and new sensors required additional efforts that were planned as part of WP2 and WP5 activities. New methods for quality control of biogeochemical data were, in particular, developed.  All data collected in this project have thus been carefully validated and made publicly available through the Euro-Argo data centers and integrated in the international Argo programme. They were distributed to the scientific community, ocean and climate analysis and forecasting centers.  Specific tasks were planned to develop further the interfaces and exchanges with GMES/Copernicus Marine Service teams including near real time demonstration and impact studies carried out as part of WP6. 
  • Floats are powerful tools in helping to transfer knowledge about ocean science fundamental concepts and principles as well as to communicate on global-change and environment monitoring related issues.  We have used the Euro-Argo WWW site ( to promote the E-AIMS results to a wide public audience.  New Argo floats that were tested as part of E-AIMS offer a new vision of the ocean (e.g. biology, deep ocean, polar regions) or allow us to promote the evolution of float technology (e.g. 2 way communication).    E-AIMS “float stories” have been added to the Euro-Argo WWW site to further stimulate interest in float observations and float technology.   This was organized for each task of WP2.   Each WP2 task leader was asked to write a short float story explaining the novel aspects of the float technology and the impact on the Copernicus Marine Service as well as ocean and climate change research.   Six float technology sheets were prepared (see
  • General communication activities were also performed and jointly organized with the Euro-Argo ERIC.  The project WWW site was regularly updated to provide general information on the project and its achievements.  A project brochure was prepared during the first semester of year 2014 and provided, in addition to the project overview, the first results of the testing of new float technology (WP2) and of OSE/OSSE and impact studies (WP3 and WP4).  A final brochure (20 pages) was produced at the end of the project and will be widely disseminated as part of the Euro-Argo ERIC activities.  It will be, in particular, delivered to our main stakeholders (e.g. DG RTD, Copernicus bureau, Mercator Ocean/Copernicus Marine Service, ECMWF/Copernicus Climate Service, DG MARE/EMODNET, EuroGOOS, ESA, Eumetsat).  
  • The final WP3/WP4 workshop (December 2014) ( was an excellent opportunity to promote E-AIMS OSE/OSSEs results to the wider scientific community.  
  • Short summaries of impact studies (one for each task of WP3 and WP4) were also prepared and made available on the Euro-Argo/E-AIMS WWW site (see and 
  • As is the case with all R&D projects, the dissemination of results is also through peer reviewed publications in scientific journals and presentations in appropriate scientific and technological conferences.   About a dozen of scientific publications (float technology, data quality control methods, OSEs/OSSEs in ocean models, satellite validation) were prepared as part of the project activities (see next section).   The list of conferences where the E-AIMS project and/or its workpackages and tasks were presented is given in the next section.  

Plans for future exploitation of results

E-AIMS has worked in close cooperation with the Euro-Argo ERIC European legal entity that federates and organizes European activities contributing to the Argo international programme.  This will ensure that E-AIMS project results and findings can be optimally exploited after the end of the project.

 E-AIMS demonstrated the capability of the Euro-Argo infrastructure to conduct R&D driven by Copernicus needs and demonstrated that procurement, deployment and processing of these new floats for Copernicus can be organized at European level. Impact on the Copernicus Marine Service was clearly evidenced. Both feasibility and utility aspects have thus been fully assessed.   The Euro-Argo ERIC is thus now in excellent position to capitalize on these results and prepare the implementation of the next phase of Argo in Europe.  E-AIMS findings and recommendations have been included, in particular, in the “Strategy for evolution of Argo in Europe” roadmap prepared by the Euro-Argo ERIC to start implementing the new phase of Argo in Europe.   E-AIMS WWW site and communication materials (brochures, summary of achievements, sheets on WP2, WP3 and WP4 results) are also fully integrated in the Euro-Argo research infrastructure WWW site.