The ocean produces at least half of the world’s oxygen, is home to most of Earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. It is what makes life on Earth possible not only for humans, but for all organisms on our planet.
The international Argo Program, which includes NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, was recently awarded the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Corporate Innovation Award “for innovation in large-scale autonomous observations in oceanography with global impacts in marine and climate science and technology.”
AOML scientists and partners from an assortment of universities and Cooperative Institutes successfully completed the most comprehensive ocean acidification sampling of the Gulf of Mexico to date with the conclusion of the fourth Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise, also known as the GOMECC-4 cruise. The research effort aboard the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown began out of Key West, Florida on September 13, 2021 with 25 scientists and graduate students aboard. It ended 39 days later on October 21 with a port stop in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In January 2021, AOML in partnership with NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) completed the air launch testing of the Air-Launched Autonomous Micro-Observer (ALAMO) profiling float. This testing cleared the ALAMO floats for flight and deployed from the NOAA P3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft during their hurricane reconnaissance missions. The data collected and transmitted by the ALAMO floats will be used to understand the ocean’s interaction with tropical cyclones and improve coupled hurricane forecasting models.
The Global Drifter Program’s (GDP) Drifter Data Assembly Center (DAC) at AOML has launched a new interactive map of the global drifter array. This new tool features the ability to zoom and scroll, hover the cursor over drifters to get their identification numbers, and click to see data and metadata including deployment information, manufacturer, and drifter type in an ID card that can be viewed as a high-resolution image with an additional click.
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.
AOML scientists partnered with the U.S. Air Force 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters” to deploy eight drifting buoys in advance of Tropical Storm Isaias on August 3, 2020 off the Carolina coast, in collaboration with the National Weather Service (NWS), National Hurricane Center (NHC), and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
AOML is preparing to deploy two autonomous data pod systems with Pressure Inverted Echo Sounders near the eastern boundary of the North Atlantic during March 2020. This will be the first full scale operational deployment of data pods, with a goal of providing a low-cost solution for the sustained Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation monitoring without the continuous use of a research vessel.
AOML scientists recently traveled to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, respectively, to train members of the CARICOOS and ANAMAR ocean glider teams in the removal and installation of science sensors in the fleet of AOML underwater gliders.
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.