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The Argo Program was developed in 1999 and today supports a global array of almost 4,000 robotic profiling floats that measure the temperature and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) of the ocean. The Argo Program has an international reach with participation from close to 30 countries. This partnership allows, for the first time, constant monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and currents of the upper ocean.

Two new types of Argo floats are now being tested to dive down to a depth of 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) and to have additional sensors on them to collect information about the biology and the chemistry (oxygen, pH, nitrate, suspended particles, and downwelling irradiance) of the global ocean. Argo floats work on a 10-day cycle (see diagram). After 10 days, the floats rise to the ocean surface and send their data to satellites. This data is publicly available within hours after collection and used in research and forecasting across the globe.

Fun Fact: The Argo Program is named after the Greek mythical ship Argo (captained by Jason) to emphasize the complementary relationship of Argo with the Jason satellite altimeters.

Understanding the Ocean’s Role in Earth’s Climate

The Argo Program: Revolutionizing Global Ocean Science

NOAA’s Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program is a leader in the international Argo Program and currently supports new investments to develop floats that can measure the deep ocean and ocean chemistry, helping us better assess ocean health globally. The Argo Program has revolutionized our ability to track changes in the ocean with a global array of autonomous profiling floats, providing nearly four times the ocean information as all other observing tools combined.

Extreme Event Forecasting

GOMO supports observations and data collected from Argo floats and other ocean monitoring devices to improve extreme event forecast accuracy.

Supporting Innovation

GOMO has led NOAA to sponsor tests of new ocean observing technologies such as deep Argo floats to better understand important ocean changes like increasing heat content.

International Partnerships

Through international partnerships, GOMO supports capacity building workshops that train scientists in monitoring local ocean conditions, improving forecasts of tropical storms and saving lives.

Meet Our U.S. Argo Program Partners

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Argo Program News & Resources

We support innovative research from institutions from around the country that foster advancements in understanding and protecting our global oceans. See how you can get involved by viewing our current funding opportunities.