03.01.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Enlisting Sailing Vessels to Help Build a Global Ocean Observing System

© IOC, JCOMM-OPS The Lady Amber in full sail

Lady Amber deploys Argo floats in Indian Ocean

The IOC and its Global Ocean Observing System with the JCOMM (Joint WMO IOC Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorlogy) have been coordinating the deployment of Argo drifting robots throughout the world’s oceans for over ten years.  Recently a South African education sailing ship, Lady Amber, has been enlisted to deploy the Argo floats in parts of the Southern Indian Ocean which are otherwise seldom visited by research or cargo vessels.  Now, after a year of operations in the Indian Ocean for Argo Australia, under UNESCO, and JCOMM, the Lady Amber will be making landfall in Perth Australia, where she will be greeted by our Perth Regional Programme Office and Australia's  CSIRO. The crew has deployed about 57 floats in 2011 for CSIRO and have taken some risks at sea for Argo, crossing storms, tropical cyclones. The ship will deploy one more Argo before reaching Perth. The Argo network makes a major contribution to the Indian Ocean Observing System and will assist scientists better udnerstand and be able to predict the Ocean's dynamics. After celebrations in Perth the Lady Amber will continue its journey to Hobart to meet with the Argo officials from CSIRO.

The IOC supports the JCOMM-OPS office in Toulouse which coordinates the deployment of the over 3400 Argo floats throughout the world oceans and 1250 surface drifters.  More than 2000 deployments per year are required to maintain the two global arrays, which are an essential part of the Global Climate Observing System, providing crucial data for weather forecasts and information on the heat content of the oceans. The data enable climate models to include accurate representations of ocean currents and circulation. The Argos deployed off the Lady Amber constitute a major contribution to the Indian Ocean Observing System and will assist scientists better understand and be able to predict the Indian Ocean's dynamics, and thereby lead to societal benefit as that understanding and associated products  transfer to  Indian Ocean communities through the Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System (IOGOOS) framework.
Mathieu Belbeoch, JCOMMOPS, points out that  
“After a decade of implementation using mainly research vessels and merchants ships, the global programmes are now investigating green, flexible, free or non-profit based, and dedicated deployment platforms. The JCOMMOPS office is currently setting up partnerships with diverse sailing communities, including NGOs (such as Voiles Sans Frontières in the Atlantic Ocean ), sailing races or individual explorers, scholarships, etc. In a context of constant pressure on economy, including on ship time budgets, we need to be inventive and set up win-win cooperations.  
Finally we need to humanize the GOOS and tell to the public the stories of people involved in its day to day implementation.
The establishment of a dedicated coordinator for ship logistics within JCOMMOPS in 2012 will permit us to continue to explore these opportunities,  and better assist float/buoy programmes in their operations.”
A Google Earth application tracks the progress of the Lady Amber’s cruise: ftp://ftp.jcommops.org/JCOMMOPS/Cruises/JCOMMOPS_ZR2335.kml
More on the Argo programmes and JCOMM-OPS : http://www.jcommops.org




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