Argo Floats Part 1
Argo Floats are a very cool technology that measures Argo.jpgtemperature and salinity in our oceans. We need this information to help us with climate, weather, and ocean research.
Argos are like Underwater Robots that float around at about 1000m (1 km) below sea level. They float here for 9 days, then sink down to about 2 kilometres of depth before they come up to the surface. On its way up, an Argo Float measures temperature and salinity through the water column. Once it's on the surface, it transmits that data to a satellite and then repeats the process, sinks back down to a 1,000 metres, spends another 9 days drifting around.
The buoyancy of an Argo float is controlled to make it rise or sink. This is done by pumping oil between internal and external bladders.
A Cartesian diver works on similar scientific principles.

Argo Floats Part 2!

LEARNZ Virtual Field trip - fabulous activities, background readings, videos and more - click here

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Preparing a regular argo float for deployment from LEARNZ on Vimeo.

Deploying regular Argo Floats from LEARNZ on Vimeo.

Deploying an Argo Float
Dan Zwartz explaining how a 'Water Release' is used to help deploy an Argo Float.

Here is a very cool animation put together by Malou Zuidema and Esmee van Wijk. Supported by: CSIRO, Argo and IMOS )
For more information:

Used with permission

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The Journey of an Argo Float

Each Argo Float is precisely built to remain buoyant and accurate. The people who designed the Argo Float programme decided that 1000m was a sensible floating depth as this is a deeper part of the upper ocean. The current flow is weaker and 9 days gives it time to resolve its motion.
Also animals like barnacles don’t grow at this depth (no light) so wouldn’t attach themselves to an Argo Float, affecting buoyancy.

The Journey of the Argo Float - Sorting activity.

Print off the cards and arrows and sort into correct order

So what!

Argo data are easy to access and are truly global.

  • bring more of an awareness of how our oceans work.
  • keep a watch on major temperature and salinity anomalies and changes in ocean circulation.
  • aid the monitoring of environmental conditions that affect fish stocks and biological productivity.
  • give oceanographers and climate scientists a comprehensive ocean data set.

A key objective of Argo is to observe ocean signals related to climate change. Argo data hasn’t been around long enough to show global change but is keeping tabs on seasonal changes taking place.

Dr Phil Sutton at Bluff NZ

Dr Phil Sutton is an Oceanographer at Niwa. He works closely with the Argo Project.
The Science Learning Hub have put up some videos of him explaining about Argo Floats.
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Phil has a very 'easy to understand' manner which makes these videos so meaningful and useful.
The following videos are found on the Science Learning Hub Website.

How Argo floats work
How Argo floats rise and sink
New Zealand and the Argo project
The Argo and Jason projects
What we are learning from Argo

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An International Collaboration!

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Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

What’s with the Name?

The way I first remembered the term “Argo” was by picturing it peering over the side of a boat, saying “arr ..go” and jumping off. That’s got nothing to do with it at all- just a fun picture in my mind!
Argo comes from Greek Mythology. The Argo was the ship that a ship builder called Argus built. Jason, an ancient Greek mythological hero and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcos to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Click on the Wordfind for a printable PDF version

Scripps Argo Site