Argo Floats

Blue Planet Odyssey yachts deployed Argo floats in those areas of ocean for which scientists are most lacking knowledge.

What is an Argo float?

An Argo deployment

Named after Jason’s ship the Argo, which set out to find the Golden Fleece according to Greek myth, an Argo float is a battery-powered autonomous float that spend most of its life drifting at depth.

A typical float will descend to a target depth of 1000m to drift and then descend again to 2000m. It measures the temperature and salinity of the water around it.

Floats can change their buoyancy by pumping oil into and out of an external bladder, which allows them to sink, drift with the ocean currents and measure data as they rise to the surface.

The floats send their data and location back to processing centres on land via the satellite network. Each float repeats this cycle every 10 days and can drift in the oceans measuring data for as long as 4 to 7 years.


The Argo global array began in 2000 and is now a major component of the ocean observing system with about 800 deployments per year. It is part of the global observing system which also includes drifter buoys and satellites and is managed by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), working in partnership with national government agencies and oceanographic research institutions around the world.

Status of Argo Global Array – Feb 2015

Global Warming Data

Data from the Argo floats has been crucial in demonstrating that much of the planetary warming has occurred in the deep ocean, especially in the Southern Ocean outside of the tropics. While sea surface temperatures have risen more slowly in recent years, heat has been absorbed throughout the ocean, a fact scientists are only now becoming aware of.

The more Argo floats that can be deployed by ships and yachts in remote areas, the more this data will inform scientists as to the true state of the planet and the ocean.

Blue Planet Odyssey deployment

Sailing yacht LIBBY, crewed by Terry and Dena Singh, took onboard 8 Argo floats in San Diego from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.  There is a substantial gap in Argo coverage along 5°S in the eastern Pacific. The Argo floats had to be deployed in a specified line along 5°S which was something of a challenge for a small sailing boat.

Terry and Dena enlisted the help of Chris and Jess on OM who were participating in the Pacific Odyssey and they each took 4 floats to deploy.

Libby and OM arranged for each of the Argo floats to be adopted by a School or organisation

Here is a record of all the Argo floats deployments:
The Argo Floats Deployment Hall of Fame

How are Argo floats manufactured?

Here is a film made by Terry and Dena Singh of LIBBY on their visit to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to see how the Argo floats are manufactured, with Michael McClune who is Principal Development Engineer along with Argo specialist John Gilson.

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