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The European contribution to the global sea and ocean in depth profiling by floats
The European contribution to the International Argo Programme (EURO-ARGO) is a distributed Research Infrastructure that organizes and federates the European contribution to the international Argo programme for in situ ocean observations. EURO-ARGO aims at sustaining the European contribution to the global Argo array of profiling floats which measure temperature and salinity every 10 days throughout the deep global oceans to deliver data both in real-time and delayed mode for climate change research and monitoring as well as operational services such as Copernicus. It also aims at developing the new phase of Argo extending the network to abyssal oceans, biogeochemical parameters, marginal seas and high latitudes.
The EURO-ARGO ERIC was established in 2014 after a successful Preparatory Phase project with 7 Members and 2 Observers. In 2018, the EURO-ARGO ERIC federates 10 Members and 2 Observers.
The overall objective of the EURO-ARGO Research Infrastructure is to deploy about 350 new floats per year as necessary to maintain an array of about 1.000 floats in operation at any given time – 25% of the global array – with enhanced coverage in the European regional seas that requires increased sampling in the Nordic, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black seas.
EURO-ARGO contributes to the establishment of the Argo global array − almost 4.000 drifting profiling floats worldwide − for in situ measurements integrated with other elements of the climate observing system, in particular satellite observations, to detect climate variability from seasonal to decadal scales and provide long-term observations of climate change in the oceans. This includes regional and global changes in temperature and ocean heat content, salinity and freshwater content, sea level and large-scale ocean circulation. In addition, EURO-ARGO provides data to constrain global and regional ocean analysis and forecasting models, delivers information to initialize seasonal and decadal forecasting ocean/atmosphere-coupled models and produce the evidences necessary for calibration and validation of satellite data.
Contributions to the global array are progressing and European partners continue to be major actors in the Argo data management system to target research – climate and oceanography – and operational oceanography communities and to implement the new phase of Argo. The EURO-ARGO Research Infrastructure is indeed at the forefront of the development of the new phase of ARGO with an extension to biogeochemical variables, the deep ocean and the polar seas.
Given the prominent role of the EURO-ARGO Research Infrastructure for climate change research and its contribution to seasonal and decadal climate forecasting, the socio-economic impacts are expected to be largely on the medium and the long-term runs. EURO-ARGO has developed strong links with the European ocean and climate change research communities that are heavily relying on Argo observations. The EURO-ARGO is also a major in situ infrastructure for the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). Long-term ocean observations will lead to a better understanding and prediction of climate change – e.g sea-level rise – and improved mitigation strategies. Through the purchase of 1/4 of the deployed floats per year, EURO-ARGO will contribute to the consolidation and to the strengthening of the global competitiveness of European manufacturers in the highly aggressive field of innovation related to marine equipment.