Argo deployment reaches new milestones

Argo deployment reaches new milestones

Kaharoa’s Argo deployment voyages to date.

John Hunt prepares to deploy an Argo float. Credit: Mike Naidanovici

John Hunt prepares to deploy an Argo float. (Photo: Mike Naidanovici, NIWA)

NIWA’s 28 m research vessel Kaharoa may merit a place in the Guinness Book of Records, having recently returned from a voyage to deploy a further 42 Argo floats. The floats bring the total deployed by Kaharoa to 439 over four years. The work has been a team effort by all those onboard, including Kaharoa’s assistant mate John Hunt, who probably holds the individual deployment record.

The total number of live Argo floats across all the world’s oceans is creeping up towards the project’s target of 3000. The floats, which activate on launching, remain ‘live’ for up to four years, and oscillate between the surface and water depths of 2000 m. They provide data via satellite on ocean currents, upper ocean temperature, and salinity, all of which is relayed and made publicly available within hours of collection.

Kaharoa’s latest voyage lasted for 32 days, and according to John, the trip was remarkable mainly for the prolonged bad weather. The vessel travelled east at the same speed as a low pressure weather system for over two weeks, making for lumpy seas and persistent high winds for the 5–man crew. "I was just glad I wasn’t the cook!" says John.

Research subject: Coasts