Home | Contact ST  

Ocean Research


January 2013 Issue

Argo Program Collects Millionth Ocean Observation Profile
The Argo program, a global array of more than 3,000 free-drifting, profiling floats that measure temperature and salinity, has recorded its one millionth ocean observation profile of the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean.

All data collected by the floats is relayed and made publicly available hours after collection. There are 28 countries involved in the Argo program, which costs $25 million annually. The United States is the largest provider of sensors to the global array network.

The initial objective was to maintain a network of 3,000 sensors in ice-free open ocean areas, providing both real-time data and higher-quality delayed mode data and analyses.

Since the late 19th century and until the Argo program was founded, oceanographers had collected approximately 500,000 profiles in the upper 1,000 meters and 200,000 profiles in the upper 2,000 meters of the ocean’s surface. With Argo, it will take eight years to collect the next million ocean observation profiles.

The Argo program was originally funded through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program from 1999 to 2011. Today, Argo is funded as tasks under cooperative agreements with three academic institutions—the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington—and through partnerships with NOAA’s Atlantic Ocean and Meteorological Laboratory, and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

“We’re still about 50 years behind the space community and its mission to reach the moon,” said Dr. Susan Wijffels, Argo co-chair. “The world’s deep-ocean environment is as hostile as that in space, but because it holds so many clues to our climate future, exploring it with the Argo observing network is a real turning point for science.”

Germany University Vessel to Get Kongsberg Survey Suite
Kongsberg Maritime (Kongsberg, Norway) has been awarded the contract to supply a survey suite to a vessel now under construction and for use by a consortium of German universities, which are the first to specify the 0.5° x 1° configuration of the EM 122 multibeam echosounder system.

The equipment is for the newbuild survey vessel Tiefsee Forschungs Schiff (TFS), which has been commissioned to replace the old RV Sonne, the vessel presently being shared by the same group of universities, which includes the University of Bremen/Hamburg, the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) Hannover, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and several others.

Other Kongsberg Maritime systems on board TFS include an EM 710 0.5° x 1° system, a Seapath position reference system, an EA 600 Hydrographic single-beam echosounder and an EK60 echosounder. All systems will be integrated in a hydroacoustic lab, featuring a video wall.

Owned by the German Ministry of Research, TFS is being built by Meyer Werft GmbH (Papenburg, Germany) and will be operated by RF Forschungsschiffahrt GmbH (Bremen, Germany).

System delivery starts in autumn of 2013, and the final sea acceptance test is planned for the end of 2014.

University, Lloyd’s Register Partner on Marine Center
The University of Southampton and Lloyd’s Register (London, England) completed in December the topping out of their new marine technology and research center.

The university’s former Boldrewood campus is being transformed into a £116 million research hub, which will include the Lloyd’s Register’s Group Technology Centre with 400 staff.

The initiative will be a magnet for inward investment in the marine sector in the U.K.

The first phase of the development is scheduled for completion in 2014.

“Putting our practical experts next to the university’s learning and research facilities will stimulate technical innovation and I believe, in future, it will allow us to broaden our relationship into areas as diverse as the food and information security sectors,” said Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd’s Register.

Project Evaluates Use of Citizen Science in Research
The Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology released in December a guide on how to develop, implement and evaluate citizen-science projects to monitor the U.K.’s environment.

The aim of the project, “Understanding Citizen Science and Environmental Monitoring,” was to learn lessons from 234 citizen-science projects. Citizen science is broadly defined as the involvement of volunteers in science.

Of the case studies, 64 percent focused on terrestrial environments, with the remaining 14 percent and 16 percent being freshwater and marine related, respectively.

Most of these case studies were found to be simple, mass participation projects. However, marine and shore research efforts were disproportionately likely to be local or simple mass participation projects, rather than thorough mass participation projects, suggesting an opportunity for marine scientists.

There is potential to make considerably more use of citizen science, with new technologies such as online recording or smartphone apps like Planet Tracker, the report found. Citizen-science data quality can be excellent, even though this is not yet recognized by all researchers and policymakers.

Additionally, citizen science can be a cost-effective way of collecting environmental data. In one year, volunteer observers for biodiversity surveillance in the U.K. were estimated to contribute time in-kind worth more than £20 million. Despite relying on volunteers, citizen science is not free. Analysis showed that projects providing data relevant to policy development typically have annual running costs of £70,000 to £150,000, spent on website or smartphone app development, publicity material, data management and event costs, on top of the in-kind contribution of volunteers.

For the study, the research team studied volunteer motivation, held structured interviews with users of citizen science and environmental monitoring data, and looked at how such projects help meet policy needs.


-back to top-

Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.