The 2021 hurricane season is off to a busy start with five named storms having already formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Recently, Tropical Storm Claudette travelled directly over three ocean observation platforms, providing key ocean data for the initialization of the ocean component for hurricane forecast models.
BGC Argo Floats Provide First Year-Round Net Primary Production Estimates for the Western North Atlantic
Phytoplankton drifting near the ocean surface play a critical role in marine biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, and ecosystem health. But measuring the activity of these microscopic organisms is challenging. Although scientists rely on ship-based sampling and satellites to quantify their abundance, both methods have limitations. In a study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences,* Argo profiling floats equipped with biogeochemical sensors, i.e., BGC Argo floats, were used to obtain the first year-long estimates of phytoplankton in the western North Atlantic Ocean.
In a recent article published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the history of the Argo program is examined and discussed. The Argo program began in 1998 when a team of international scientists, known as the “Argo Science Team,” proposed the idea for a global array of autonomous floats to obtain temperature and salinity measurements of the upper 2,000 meters of the global ocean. The new array of floats, called Argo, would go on to be endorsed as a pilot program of the Global Ocean Observing System and be used to fill in the large data gaps in ocean observations.
Scientists are now looking to expand their observing capabilities to include the biology and chemistry of the oceans, currently available globally from ocean color satellites that measure chlorophyll, indicating algal blooms at the ocean surface. A recent paper in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology by AOML postdoctoral scientist Cyril Germineaud of the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and colleagues shows that in close synergy with ocean color satellites, a global array of biogeochemical sensors complementing the existing core Argo network could revolutionize our knowledge of the changing state of primary productivity, ocean carbon cycling, ocean acidification, and the patterns of marine ecosystem variability from seasonal to interannual time scales.
Staff with the US Argo Data Acquisition Center (DAC) at AOML marked an important milestone this past February by processing the one millionth profile from Argo floats. The DAC team has been processing and quality controlling all of the raw data obtained from US-deployed Argo floats since 2001, with about 90,000 temperature-salinity profiles processed annually since 2007. These profiles have provided the global scientific community with an unprecedented record of the evolving state of the upper ocean, advancing understanding of the ocean’s role in world climate.
Researchers at NOAA AOML have released a new tropical Atlantic data set that includes several enhancements to improve data accuracy and data collection in the tropical Atlantic. The new data set is called enhanced PIRATA, or ePIRATA, and provides continuous records of upper-ocean temperature, salinity, and currents, together with meteorological data such as winds, humidity, and solar radiation. ePIRATA should prove valuable in better analyzing ocean and atmospheric processes in the tropical Atlantic.
PIRATA, the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic, is a multinational observation network, established to improve knowledge and understanding of ocean-atmosphere variability in the tropical Atlantic. It is a joint project of Brazil, France and the United States of America, motivated by fundamental scientific issues and by societal needs for improved prediction of climate variability and its impact on the countries surrounding the tropical Atlantic basin. PIRATA provides measurements at 18 locations throughout the tropical Atlantic
During the months of March and April, AOML joined an international team of oceanographers to actively sample the Indian Ocean in support of the Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigation Program (GO-SHIP), an initiative to measure and investigate the ocean basins from coast to coast and from top to bottom. Aboard the R/V Roger Revelle, the team transected the Indian Ocean from the Antarctic northward into the Bay of Bengal, collecting seawater samples at 113 stations as part of a multi-decadal effort to measure various ocean properties, including temperature, salinity, nutrients, carbon and other gases.
The US Argo Data Assembly Center at PhOD used the transition to the NETCDF profile format version 3.0 to consolidate three processes into one process. This major development had multiple benefits. The primary benefit is that during the development stage the rapid changes in the float technology, for example the addition of sensors, were taken into account to increase the adaptability of the software to future changes of floats as well as the NETCDF profile format. Prior to this development, three programs required adaptation when float types with a new combination of sensors was deployed.