Why is Argo different?


Argo program is unique and serves as an example for other ocean observation networks:


  • 3000 floats in operation in all oceans collecting more than 100 000 profiles of temperature and salinity every year.It's 20 times more than what was presently available from research vessels.
  • Observations are performed all year round, even in high latitude areas, while research vessels usually don't go at sea when the conditions are to difficult. They are regularly distributed except in ice covered areas .
  • Data are freely available to everybody who wants to use them. They are available rapidly (more than 80% within 24 hours) when the quality controls have been performed at the data centres.
  • Argo floats measure salinity with accuracy comparable to research vessels measurements. Salinity is important to monitor changes in precipitations over the oceans. Temperature is precise enough to detect small variations linked to climate change over period from year to decade.
  • Float displacement at drift is useful information to determine deep current and compute heat transport at global scale.


Argo is a unique program that involves researchers and operational agencies from 24 countries which buy or assemble floats, deploy them at sea, and process the data in a homogeneous manner. About 800 floats are deployed each year to replace the floats which disappear (a float has a lifetime of about 4 years).