Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NOAA robotic floats monitor ocean

Associated Content: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Argo ocean observing network has met its original goal of 3,000 robotic floats worldwide. It has taken eight years of work. With the help of the floats, the NOAA has been able to measure the temperature and salinity which in turn has helped to improve forecasts of sea level rise and is helping to make seasonal climate forecasts better. They are also giving more information in the way of hurricane activity.

"This is a major milestone as we expand our global earth observing systems," said Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.) undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA is proud to be a partner in this international effort that will answer many of our planet's climate and ocean questions and enrich our life through science."

The floats are free drifting and take measurements in the top 2,000 meters of the ocean. So now there are constant updates on the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the top of the ocean. The data is processed and transmitted within hours of being recorded.

NOAA is responsible for half of the Argo network. The U.S. part of the international program is supported by NOAA. The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory is located in Miami and is the Argo data center of the U.S. The calibration of the Argo floats in completed at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. The pacific laboratory also is in charge of quality control. "Completion of the full implementation of the Argo float program is the first step in a truly global ocean observing system that will help warn society of threatening climate change," said Dr. James Baker, former NOAA administrator.

The program, which began in 1998, has removed some of the uncertainty of ocean heat storage calculations. The calculations are key to figuring the rate of climate warming and the rise in sea levels. This will help to predict how these factors will change in the future. Argo has led to new realizations about how atmosphere and ocean in varying conditions such as when there is a transfer of heat and water to the atmosphere during cyclones.

Argo is a pilot project of GOCOS or Global Ocean and Climate Observing Systems. It is the main program the ocean observing system and is funded by the Joint Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology. NOAA's services help the economic strength and affect the U.S. gross domestic product through forecasts, storm warnings, and restoring coastlines. Through top of the line equipment and the most current research, NOAA gives planners, citizens, and emergency personnel the most up to date reliable information needed.

Global Ocean Observing Array Reaches Milestone, NOAA

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