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Surprising Science

Argo Celebrates One Million Ocean Observations

The project, sponsored by 28 nations, has collected more valuable oceanographic data in the last 13 years than any other projects in the history of the science.

What’s the Latest Development?

Ocean scientists around the world are celebrating the collection of the one millionth ocean profile from the Argo project, which since 1999 has grown from 10 drifting robotic sensors to a veritable army of more than 3,500 spread out across the Indian and Southern oceans as well as the Tasman Sea. Although the profile was obtained last month, a series of high-level international presentations are taking place today, involving, among others, Argo co-chairs Susan Wijffels and Dean Roemmich and NASA oceanographer Josh Willis. Twenty-eight nations contribute to the annual cost of the program.

What’s the Big Idea?

In the history of deep sea oceanography, spanning from the late 1800s up to Argo’s launch, ships have only collected just over 700,000 deep ocean profiles. The data obtained by Argo in the last 13 years has been used in almost 1,200 scientific papers and a wide range of applications, including weather and climate predictions for commercial and military ocean operations. Wijffels says, “We’re still about 50 years behind the space community…[the] deep ocean environment is as hostile as that in space, but because it holds so many clues to our climate future exploring it with the Argo observing network is a real turning point for science.”

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