Euro-Argo is the European contribution to the international Argo network comprised of nearly 4000 autonomous floating profilers that record temperature and salinity in real time from the sea surface to depths reaching 2000 m in all the oceans across the globe. Euro-Argo is a European legal entity (European Research Infrastructure Consortium, ERIC) coordinated by France and ensures the continuity and the consolidation of the European contribution to the Argo network..
Launched in 2000 by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the international Argo programme is the keystone of the global ocean observation system set up to monitor, study and forecast the role of the ocean on the Earth’s climate. At the end of 2007, the project reached its initial goal of 3000 operational floats. Along with satellite observations, the data from the Argo floats are the main source of data for researchers interested in the climate and the ocean, for operational centres and ocean circulation forecasts as well as for seasonal and weather forecasts.
The motivation behind the creation of the Euro-Argo ERIC in 2014 was to maintain, optimise and enhance the European contribution to the Argo programme and deliver high-quality services to the scientific community (ocean, climate) and for operational oceanography needs. Euro-Argo also aims to prepare the next Argo phase, adding biogeochemical parameters and extending the network to the deep sea and to the poles.
The Euro-Argo ERIC coordinates the network and oversees the purchase and monitoring of the European floats. Nine countries (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Poland, Finland) are the founding members of the infrastructure whose headquarters are located at IFREMER in Brest.
The French contribution to this programme is coordinated by the inter-organisational body Coriolis, piloted by IFREMER, and includes the main French organisations involved in oceanography (CNES, CNRS/INSU, IFREMER, IPEV, IRD, Météo-France, SHOM). In addition, France is very active in all aspects of the Argo programme. It houses one of the two global Argo data assembly centres, it participates in the development of floats (Provor and Arvor floats) and in the deployment of these floats; it contributes to research (ocean, climate, biogeochemistry) and operational oceanography (Mercator Ocean, Copernicus).
NAOS, preparing the next generation of the Argo programme
The Equipex NAOS of the investment expenditure (Investissements d’avenir) programme coordinated by IFREMER in conjunction with the Pierre et Marie Curie University, prepares and guides the developments of the Argo programme for the next decade. NAOS has led to the development of a new generation of French Argo floats and fosters involvement of French industry via its collaboration with the SME NKE Instrumentation which produces the floats. These new floats are more efficient and can dive to greater depths, accommodate biogeochemical sensors and explore polar areas. In 2014, several prototypes of new French deep-sea floats (Deep Arvor) that can reach depths of 4000 m were successfully tested by IFREMER. Pilot scientific experiments are now in progress in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Arctic Ocean (floats with biogeochemical sensors) and in the North Atlantic (deep-sea floats with oxygen sensors).