The "Blue Observer" sailing expedition will contribute to maintain the global Argo network by deploying around 100 floats. A premiere!
The global pandemic has disrupted our daily lives but also scientific research. For example, many missions at sea have been cancelled and delayed, which has greatly affected the deployment of Argo floats. To remedy this situation, an unprecedented solution has been found: on 14th November, the oceanographic sailing vessel IRIS will leave Brest with the aim of deploying 100 floats in the Atlantic Ocean, including 17 European ones. On board, the French team "Blue Observer" will be responsible for this scientific mission.
This first ambitious mission is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partner Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Argo Canada and Euro-Argo. It is the result of an international collaboration coordinated by OceanOPS. "It is an innovative, low-carbon operational response to the constraints imposed by the global pandemic and the difficulties of maintaining the usual academic research campaigns.”, explains Mathieu Belbéoch, OceanOPS director.
Eric Defert, the IRIS skipper and co-founder of Blue Observer, presented the 3-month scientific mission to the press, in Brest. From left to right: Romain Cancouët (research engineer at Euro-Argo ERIC), Eric Defert (skipper and co-founder of Blue Observer) and Mathieu Belbéoch (OceanOPS director).
Romain Cancouët, from Euro-Argo ERIC, showing the demo float to the Blue Observer team, on IRIS.
Eric Defert and Romain Cancouët, on IRIS.
17 European floats on board
The journey of the sailing boat IRIS. The yellow dots represent the locations of future deployments.
The mission is expected to last about three months, or almost 100 days at sea. The 17 European floats – French, Dutch, European projects and German – will be deployed during the transatlantic voyage, heading for Woods Hole (Massachusetts, USA) where the crew will then pick up the 78 American-Canadian floats. The latter will be deployed during the second part of the voyage, when the Iris will continue its route in the South Atlantic, towards the island of St Helena, off the coast of Namibia.