Its thought that the oceans have absorbed more than 80 percent of the excess heat in the air/sea/land climate system that constitutes global warming over the past 50 years. But there have not been enough measurements in the past to document these changes. Now we can accurately measure changing ocean temperatures globally for the first time.
The data keeps improving as new floats are added to the array, sharpening the resolution of ocean data the way additional pixels sharpen the image on a television screen. Each float in the Argo array makes measurements of temperature and salinity, often called the vital signs of oceans. The units descend to depths up to 2,000 meters (6,600 feet), drifting on ocean currents for 10 days, then returning to the surface to beam results to passing satellites. The profile of ocean conditions they make is then processed and posted within 24 hours of transmission. The raw data as well as the position of the floats relative to where they were during their last transmission allow for a wide range of interpretive study.
The big impact of Argo is yet to come in the discovery of large-scale processes that happen in the oceans, said Scripps research oceanographer Russ Davis, a co-inventor of one of the float designs employed by the network.
Though Argo scientists hope that the network of sensor-bearing floats provides data for decades, the program has already yielded valuable information that has been the basis or a major data source for 150 research papers since 2004. Using Argo data, scientists have been able to witness changes in the stratification of waters in the Gulf of Alaska with major food web implications. Others have conclude
|Contact: Rob Monroe|
University of California - San Diego