Ocean robots network achieves universal coverage

Nov 12, 2007

Scientist’s efforts to fathom how the oceans influence climate and fisheries productivity enter a new era this month with the milestone establishment of a network of 3,000 futuristic, 1.5-metre tall ocean robots operating simultaneously throughout the world’s oceans.

The Argo project has already helped Australian scientists to: closely track how fast and where the ocean is warming due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases; provide a core data stream for the new endeavour of ocean-forecasting: and, underpin efforts to include the Indian Ocean in forecasting Australian drought/flood cycles.

“Conceived of just seven years ago by a small group of oceanographers, Argo is maturing to be one of ocean science’s great steps forward and one from which all countries can benefit,” says Dr Susan Wijffels from the Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship.

“Argo will allow us to grapple with some of the big climate questions, as well as provide insight into how the ever-changing ocean weather affects marine ecosystems.”

Using a satellite-based data delivery system, the Argo robots provide ocean forecasters and climate scientists with a detailed sub-surface view of nearly all corners of the world’s oceans every 10 days. Vast regions of the Southern Hemisphere oceans, which were previously unmeasurable because of their remoteness and often stormy conditions, are now being systematically probed for the first time.

The milestone comes as scientists representing 26 countries meet in Hobart this week to discuss the key task of ensuring the smooth running of the Argo data engine – the centralised system which relays data provided by many national Argo data centres around the world to aid in the provision of accurate ocean, weather and climate forecasts.

Dr Wijffels says that having built up the array to uniform global coverage and constructed an effective data-delivery system, the next challenge is to maintain the full array for a decade in a pre-operational ‘sustained maintenance’ phase.

“This will allow the array’s design to be optimised and its value fully demonstrated and exploited,” Dr Wijffels says. “The US has committed to maintaining half of the array for the next four years and other contributing countries are striving to enhance the array’s strong international nature. As more is learned about the floats and their sensors, float lifetimes will be extended, further improving the cost-effectiveness of the program.”

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: Microscopic organism plays a big role in ocean carbon cycling

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bio robots make a splash in the Indian Ocean

Jan 29, 2014

The Indian Ocean contains vast fisheries and mineral resources that are of strategic importance to both Australia and India. It also plays a direct role in driving the climates of its surrounding regions ...

Global sea level rise dampened by Australia floods

Aug 19, 2013

When enough raindrops fall over land instead of the ocean, they begin to add up. New research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that when three atmospheric patterns came together ...

Recommended for you

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

17 hours ago

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

22 hours ago

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2007
Well, there goes the neighborhood...

More news stories

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.