Articles | Volume 3, issue 3
Ocean Sci., 3, 379–395, 2007

Special issue: Mediterranean Ocean Forecasting System: toward environmental...

Ocean Sci., 3, 379–395, 2007

  08 Aug 2007

08 Aug 2007

MedArgo: a drifting profiler program in the Mediterranean Sea

P.-M. Poulain1, R. Barbanti1, J. Font2, A. Cruzado3, C. Millot4, I. Gertman5, A. Griffa6, A. Molcard7, V. Rupolo8, S. Le Bras9, and L. Petit de la Villeon9 P.-M. Poulain et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Trieste, Italy
  • 2Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Centre d'Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), Blanes, Spain
  • 4Laboratoire d'Océanographie et de Biogéochimie (LOB-CNRS), La Seyne, France
  • 5Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR), Haifa, Israel
  • 6Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), La Spezia, Italy
  • 7Université de Toulon et du Var, La Garde, France
  • 8Ente per le Nuove Tecnologie, l'Energia e l'Ambiente (ENEA), Roma, Italy
  • 9Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), Brest, France

Abstract. In the framework of the EU-funded MFSTEP project, autonomous drifting profilers were deployed throughout the Mediterranean Sea to collect temperature and salinity profile data and to measure subsurface currents. The realization of this profiler program in the Mediterranean, referred to as MedArgo, is described and assessed using data collected between June 2004 and December 2006 (including more than 2000 profiles). Recommendations are provided for the permanent future implementation of MedArgo in support of operational oceanography in the Mediterranean Sea.

More than twenty drifting profilers were deployed from research vessels and ships-of-opportunity in most areas of the Mediterranean. They were all programmed to execute 5-day cycles with a drift at a parking depth of 350 m and CTD profiles from either 700 or 2000 m up to the surface. They stayed at the sea surface for about 6 h to be localised by, and transmit the data to, the Argos satellite system. The temperature and salinity data obtained with pumped Sea-Bird CTD instruments were processed and made available to the scientific community and to operational users in near-real time using standard Argo protocols, and were assimilated into Mediterranean numerical forecasting models.

In general, the cycling and sampling characteristics chosen for the MedArgo profilers were found to be adequate for the Mediterranean. However, it is strongly advised to use GPS and global cellular phone telemetry or the future Argos bi-directional satellite system in order to avoid data compression and losses, for the continuation of the Mediterranean drifting profiler program.