The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a $4 million, multiyear grant from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies (PGA) in support of a public-private initiative to expand our understanding of deep ocean currents and their impact on climate.
Building on the success of Argo, an international array of almost four thousand freely drifting floats that measure temperature and salinity in the upper two thousand meters, or 1.25 miles, of the global ocean, researchers at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory will deploy so-called Deep Argo floats capable of collecting data to depths of nearly four miles. Through the Jump-Starting Deep Argo initiative, researchers on the PGA research vessel Petrel will deploy an array of floats in international waters east of Brazil, with the goal of acquiring a better understanding of how the bottom half of the ocean influences long-term weather, climate, and sea level rise.
Researchers from NOAA's institutes at the University of Hawai'i and University of Washington will contribute to the project — the first to comprehensively sample a deep ocean basin using array technology, which previously has been tested only in small pilot deployments. NOAA chose the western South Atlantic for the project because it provides a window into the global thermohaline circulation, also known as the great ocean conveyor belt, which is linked to global climate variations.
"This is NOAA's first formal public-private partnership for sustained ocean observations," said acting NOAA chief scientist Craig McLean. "We applaud Paul Allen for his visionary investment in long-term knowledge to help answer some of Earth's most challenging questions."