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GYROSCOPE - Development of a real time in situ observing system in the North Atlantic Ocean, by an array of lagrangian profiling floats

Summary information

Funding:FP5 - Research project
Total cost:4896326
Ec contribution:2930769
Start date:2001-01-01
End date:2003-12-31
Duration:36 months
Coordinator:Yves Desaubies (
Organisation:French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea – France
Themes:Ocean circulation changes
Regio:North Atlantic
Keywords:Global Change; Climate and Biodiversity; Development of new long-term observing capacity
Project name:GYROSCOPE - Development of a real time in situ observing system in the North Atlantic Ocean, by an array of lagrangian profiling floats
Project summary:Problem to be solved
Progress in numerical modelling, the availability of satellite-borne sensors, and global ocean observation programmes, have led to the understanding of large fluctuations in the coupled ocean-atmosphere system. The possibility of seasonal forecasting of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system could have considerable economic benefits, but it cannot be done without appropriate ocean models and observations. In several countries, operational ocean–atmosphere models are being developed to enable nowcasting and forecasting. Ocean observing systems are required in support of those operational objectives, as well as for ocean models assessment and validation; for understanding and modelling the ocean role in climate; monitoring ocean changes; and enabling long-term trends prediction. GyroScope aims to develop a key component of such a system, that will provide, for the first time, basin-wide in situ ocean observations with a sampling appropriate to resolve seasonal and inter-annual variability. The detection of longer time scale climate signals will require that such observing systems be maintained permanently.

Scientific objectives and approach
The overarching objective of the GyroScope project is to develop a European component of a global in situ observing system of ocean variability in the North Atlantic, based on autonomous, freely drifting profiling floats, which can measure vertical profiles of temperature and conductivity (from which salinity can be deduced) at regular intervals. The data are transmitted by satellite to a receiving station. The first objective is to deploy a pilot array of about 80 autonomous profiling floats, as a contribution to the international ARGO programme. This array will transmit in real time data to Data Centre Ifremer, that will quality control, and distribute it on the Global Telecommunication System for use by National Weather Services, and operational agencies. The data will be used to estimate the time varying ocean circulation, temperature and salinity fields, and the balance of heat in the North Atlantic. Some of the estimations will be done in real time; others will include complementary data sets (satellite altimetry) to obtain the most accurate estimates and assess the information content of the float data (resolution, accuracy). Recommendations will be made for future implementation of an in situ ocean observing system. This project involves a combination of field work, data processing and evaluation, numerical modelling of ocean circulation, and studies of ocean circulation and ocean atmosphere interactions at large scales.

Expected impacts
The project goal is to develop a fully operational, low resolution array of profiling floats in the North Atlantic. A real time data stream operating continuously will deliver quality controlled data to operational meteorological and oceanographic services. Data synthesis obtained at two week intervals will give for the first time an opportunity to monitor the state of the ocean in real time. The data provided by this project will allow, in combination with satellite data and numerical models, improved long range weather forecasts by the National Weather Services, as well as more realistic ocean models for operational users, and a much improved understanding of the role of the ocean in climate. The data will contribute to a unique database for future climate research. It is hoped that the results of the project will enable the implementation of permanent in situ ocean observing systems for operational and scientific needs, much as those that have been in place for decades in the atmosphere.