European contribution to the international Argo Programme
General Info


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Euro Argo ERIC is the European Research Infrastructure Consortium set up to coordinate and strengthen the European contribution (Euro-Argo) to the international Argo programme for automated in situ ocean observation. The ERIC federates 12 national programmes across Europe which aim to provide 25% of the global Argo array with enhanced coverage in the European regional seas (Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas). The international Argo programme provides a 4-dimensional, synoptic observation of essential ocean variables. Every 10 days, Argo profiling floats, which have a lifespan of approximately 4 years, deliver FAIR and freely available data used for ocean health and climate change research. Argo data are essential for operational services such as the Copernicus Marine Service and the Copernicus Climate Change Service but also for meteorological agencies, which use them for weather forecast in ocean-atmosphere coupled models, ocean reanalyses, and seasonal or climate prediction. Satellite agencies such as the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT perform calibration and validation of their remote data collection using Argo data. The International Argo Programme began its implementation in 1999 and has reached global coverage of the ocean since 2006 (4000 floats worldwide). Originally designed to provide temperature and salinity profiles in the upper 2000 m of the ice-free ocean (the so-called “Core Argo Mission”), the array has progressively been expanded into seasonal ice zones. Recent technological advances now allow floats to be deployed in coastal areas and to reach a profiling depth of 4000 to 6000 metres (Deep-Argo Mission). Furthermore, biogeochemical sensors have been integrated to measure pH, oxygen, nitrate, chlorophyll, suspended particles, and downwelling irradiance (BGC-Argo Mission). These floats can monitor the seasonal, to decadal-scale variability in biological productivity, the supply of essential plant nutrients from deep-waters to the sunlit surface layer, ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and ocean uptake of carbon dioxide. They complement the remote sensing of ocean colour by providing information on the ocean interior and, throughout the year, in cloud covered areas. Together with the initial Core Argo Mission, the new BGC-Argo and Deep-Argo Missions form the new global, full-depth and multidisciplinary OneArgo. Once fully implemented globally, the programme will necessitate the deployment of around 1250 new Core-Argo, BGC-Argo and Deep-Argo floats every year to maintain a 4,700 float array. The mission of Euro-Argo ERIC at the horizon 2033 is to develop a long-term, sustainable European contribution to the OneArgo global ocean monitoring system, reaching one fourth of the fleet, in order to better understand and predict the ocean, its role in the climate system and its health.
Total Investment 10 M€ Design Preparation Implementation Operation 8 M€/year Project Landmark 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2006
as landmark: 2016
Total investment
10 M€
Design Phase
Preparation Phase
Implementation Phase
Operation start
8 M€/year
Argo is the first-ever global in situ and continuous ocean-observing network in the history of oceanography. It provides data for a variety of scientific and operational applications and represents an indispensable complement to satellite observation systems. Argo’s most important contributions are: a huge improvement in the estimation of the heat stored by the oceans, which is a key factor to gauge global warming and gain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind rising sea level; remarkable advances in ocean and weather forecasting capabilities allowing the development of reliable seasonal to decadal climate predictions; new insights into physical phenomena such as hurricane activity or water masses formation and movement; and tracking biogeochemical ocean processes such as deoxygenation and ocean acidification. The new OneArgo design will revolutionise the ability to observe and predict the impact of climate change on oceanic heat uptake, global water cycle and sea level rise, as well as ocean ecology, metabolism, carbon uptake, and marine resource modelling. The Argo value chain is determined by data-based forecasts and services developed by operators such as the Copernicus Services. EU policies and strategies such as the EU Green Deal, EU Biodiversity Strategy, EU Arctic Policy, EU Water (Quality) Framework Directive, or the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive rely on the Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS), which acknowledges that “nowadays Argo is the key in situ network for operational oceanography”. Furthermore, Argo data allow more accurate climate projections enabling better societal adaptation or better climate intelligence to sensitive industries (agriculture, energy, aquaculture, fisheries, insurance, transport, tourism, resource extraction, etc.).
Open and free access to data has been available since the start of the global Argo programme and subsequently since the inception of Euro-Argo. The first pathway is in near real time, over the GTS, for operational services: 6 hours after their emersion, 85% of the profilers have provided their measurements with automated quality control that flags dubious data. These data are also made available on the GDAC. After a delay of up to one year, the data are checked by an expert using peer-reviewed procedures that take into consideration reference datasets, the collocation of other observations and the local environment, particularly in marginal seas such as the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean or the polar regions. This delayed mode quality control is recorded in the GDAC with corrections to data and metadata. This level of quality is of paramount importance for climate and ocean health studies and reporting, and thus for scientific users and stakeholders in regulatory environmental monitoring. The GDAC provides the highest IT standards for interoperability using FAIR principles, enabling APIs and providing ERSSAP and SPAARQL endpoints. It allows Essential Climate Variables mappings, using the appropriate ontologies for interdisciplinary use. The datasets are available through the Copernicus Marine In Situ TAC and EMODNET. In turn, Copernicus entrusted entities provide further services, such as gridded datasets, forecast models, calibrated and validated surface observations, etc. The Euro-Argo ERIC also promotes technological development, its platforms and network being prone to test new sensors not yet included in the OneArgo programme: for example, underwater vision profiles to identify zooplankton species, pCO2 sensors to assess carbon uptake by the ocean, etc.
S S H D I G I T E N E H & F P S E
Euro-Argo has first established a natural cooperation with the RIs belonging to the ENVRI cluster, namely to enhance its FAIRness and to develop new potential of interdisciplinary research. This is done thanks to the support of EU funded project like ENVRI-FAIR, ENVRI-HUB Next, FAIR Ease, etc. This collaboration goes further with RIs contributing to in situ ocean observation, with plans to enable common or complementary sensors to be tested in joint experimental cruises, to develop standardized or compatible metadata, to converge towards a multi-platform dashboard to monitor the instruments and vectors and facilitate collocation meeting points for cross-validation. In the framework of EuroGOOS, the ultimate goal is to establish EOOS, the European Ocean Observation System, which will ensure both operational and scientific missions: higher observation density, better quality and lower investment and exploitation costs are expected from these developments, mainly supported by EU-funded projects such as GEORGE and AMRIT. With these RIs, Euro-Argo aims at knowledge transfer, sharing of guidelines and best practices, for technical teams in charge of deployment, or for the general users, e.g. on specific regions such as the Black Sea, in the framework of the DOORS project.