UK contribution to the international Bio-Argo Network.

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Plymouth Marine Lab


Despite its importance in regulating the climate and sustaining life on Earth, the ocean is a largely under sampled
and unknown ecosystem. This ignorance is preventing us from accurately predicting how ocean biology and
biogeochemical cycles will respond to the ongoing climate warming.

Observations are key to understanding. Satellite data have revealed previously unknown mechanisms, but are
limited because they can only detect surface processes and estimate a limited set of biogeochemical parameters.
Ship measurements can overcome these limitations, but are constrained by extremely high costs and thus
severely limited in spatio-temporal coverage.

A network of Bio-Argo floats will complement satellite and ship measurements and synergistically allow us to
monitor biogeochemical variables over sustained periods of time. For the first time, scientists will be able to exploit sustained observations to understand biogeochemical processes occurring in the deeper layers of the
water column. The first Bio-Argo floats are already fundamentally changing our understanding of ocean biology
and biogeochemistry (Bishop et al., 2002, 2004; Riser and Johnson, 2008; Johnson et al., 2010; Boss and
Behrenfeld, 2010). This new understanding, in turn, will improve ocean biogeochemical models and long term
predictions of the feedbacks between ocean biogeochemical cycles and Earth Climate. Improved predictions will
then inform policies. As such, the requested assets will boost NERC's science on marine ecosystems, global
biogeochemical cycles and Earth's climate predictions.

The ability to sustain biogeochemical observations in the Atlantic ocean over time and space will expand the
scope of the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) cruise. In addition, the new data on vertically-resolved
biogeochemical variables and rates will naturally feed into NERC supported biogeochemical modelling and data
assimilation activities. Finally, the novel data will significantly complement existing NCEO activities on ocean colour
remote sensing by allowing us to extend the surface satellite data into three-dimensional observation fields.
The Plymouth Marine Laboratory hosts recognized international experts in marine optics and its application to
ocean biology and biogeochemistry. This knowledge will be fundamental to assess the quality and interpret the
bio-optical data collected by Bio-Argo floats and will be used to convert the optical proxies into biogeochemically relevant variables that will be distributed to the wider UK and international communities.

Planned Impact

The growing European Bio-Argo network is already exploiting data from Bio-Argo floats as a tool to spread
knowledge of the ocean to the younger generations. One of the most promising initiatives is the "Adopt a float"
programme in which pupils learn about oceanography by following a Bio-Argo float during its entire scientific life.
Such initiative could easily be expanded to UK schools and could result in exchanges of knowledge and
experiences between international schools through the social media. All these initiatives will result in younger
generations with greater interest and respect for the ocean.


10 25 50
Description Significant new knowledge generated: data collected by the UK-Biogeochemical Argo floats combined with other existing BGC-Argo data have allowed us to better quantify the amount of energy supplied to the mesopelagic ecosystems by variations in the surface mixed layer. This previously-overlooked energy source supplies at least half of the total energy supplied in high-latitude productive regions.

Important new research questions opened up: Is this energy actually used by organisms? Or is is locked in the ocean interior for climate-relevant time scales?

Particularly noteworthy new research networks/collaborations/partnerships, or combinations of these: This grant has propelled the Plymouth Marine Laboratory as the UK representative into the global Biogeochemical Argo network. As a consequence we have been invited to participate in the first international workshop to design the Global Biogeochemical Argo network.

UPDATE (Feb 2020): we have recently published an important paper (Briggs et al., Science, see portfolio) in which, for the first time we quantified fragmentation rates of large particles using data from BGC-Argo floats and concluded that this process is the primary driver of the remineralisation depth in the ocean. This remineralisation depth is important because the deeper the sinking organic carbon is remineralised (i.e., converted back to CO2), the longer it takes for it to be re-exchanged with the atmosphere. Thus, by quantifying the importance of fragmentation, we provide new parameters for Earth System Models to better predict the future role of the biological carbon pump in uptaking CO2 form the atmosphere.
Exploitation Route The dataset is available in the Global Data Assembly Centers.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment

Description The main objective of this proposal was to acquire a fleet of 10 autonomous profilers (Bio-Argo floats) that can collect measurements of physical and, critically, biogeochemical measurements in the upper ocean. The objective has been met as 10+1 floats have been purchased with the necessary equipment. In addition, the PI has been programming, testing, and deploying the floats **at no cost** to the project. 11 floats have been deployed so far and can be followed through this web page: We expect these data will be used in operational forecasting models and links with the UK MetOffice have been established.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment
Impact Types Cultural

Description ABC project
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/M005038/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 09/2020
Description AtlantECo (H2020)
Amount £259,019 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 08/2020 
End 09/2025
Description AtlantOS
Amount € 50,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 633211 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 04/2015 
End 05/2018
Description Austrian Research Grant
Amount € 30,000 (EUR)
Organisation Austrian Research Council 
Sector Public
Country Austria
Start 03/2016 
End 03/2018
Description Euro-Argo RISE (H2020)
Amount £31,828 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2023
Description H2020 Marie Curie Fellowship
Amount £139,618 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2016 
End 06/2018
Description NCEO PhD stundetship
Amount £65,000 (GBP)
Organisation National Centre for Earth Observation 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 12/2018
Description Royal Society Newton Fellowship
Amount £99,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 03/2018
Title Processing Bio-Argo particle backscattering at the DAC level 
Description This document does NOT address the issue of particle backscattering quality control (either real-time or delayed mode). As a preliminary step towards that goal, this document seeks to ensure that all countries deploying floats equipped with backscattering sensors document the data and metadata related to these floats properly. We produced this document in response to action item 9 from the first Bio-Argo Data Management meeting in Hyderabad (November 12-13, 2012). If the recommendations contained herein are followed, we will end up with a more uniform set of particle backscattering data within the Bio-Argo data system, allowing users to begin analyzing not only their own particle backscattering data, but also those of others, in the true spirit of Argo data sharing. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This document describes the methods used to process optical backscattering data collected by Biogoechemical Argo floats: it is the reference document used by data centre to process this new type of data. 
Title A global bio-optical database derived from Biogeochemical Argo float measurements within the layer of interest for field and remote ocean color applications 
Description The database here presented includes quality-controlled bio-optical and biogeochemical variables derived from autonomous profiling Biogeochemical Argo float measurements, and supports field and remote ocean color applications. Data represent the first optical depth (i.e., the layer of interest for satellite remote sensing) and have been collected between October 2012 and January 2016, around local noon, in several oceanic areas encompassing the diversity of ocean's trophic environments. In addition to the first optical depth (as derived from the in situ measured depth of the euphotic layer), the presented database is compiled with data of diffuse light attenuation coefficients of photosynthetically available radiation and downward irradiance at 3 wavelengths (380, 412 and 490 nm), chlorophyll a concentration, fluorescent dissolved organic matter, and particle light backscattering at 700 nm. Associated errors to each variable are also reported. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This new research database has been used to identify bio-optical anomaly in the global ocean. This is important because we have shown in which ocean regions and during which seasons of the year the global ocean-colour bio-optical models are applicable. Results from this analysis have been written into a manuscript which is currently under review. 
Title A global database of vertical profiles derived from Biogeochemical Argo float measurements for biogeochemical and bio-optical applications 
Description The presented database includes 0-1000 m vertical profiles of bio-optical and biogeochemical variables acquired by autonomous profiling Biogeochemical-Argo (BGC-Argo) floats. Data have been collected between October 2012 and January 2016, around local noon, in several oceanic areas encompassing the diversity of ocean's trophic environments. The database includes profiles of downward irradiance at 3 wavelengths (380, 412 and 490 nm), photosynthetically available radiation, chlorophyll a concentration, fluorescent dissolved organic matter, and particle light backscattering at 700 nm. All variables have been quality controlled following specifically-developed procedures, that aimed to support biogeochemical and bio-optical applications at the global scale. Data corruption by biofouling and any instrumental drift has also been verified. Moreover, to allow users for different biogeochemical applications, vertical profiles of chlorophyll a and particle light backscattering at 700 nm have been presented before and after advanced processing (e.g., non-photochemical quenching correction, identification of spikes). Vertical profiles of temperature and salinity associated to these bio-optical data are also provided although they have been only quality-controlled for sensor issues related to bio-fouling and instrumental drift. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact n/a 
Title Bio-Argo datasets 
Description 9 of the 11 Bio-Argo floats have been successfully programmed, tested and deployed and have started transmitting data to the LOV website. These data have been made available to BODC (a partner in this project) who will disseminate through their website. The floats are sending profiles (0-1000m) of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll fluorescence, spectral optical backscattering, spectral downward irradiance and dissolved oxygen. Profiles have a 5-day temporal resolution. The floats have been deployed in the Atlantic ocean and appear in the LOV website under the "UK-Bio-Argo" project name. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is the one of the firsts UK Bio-Argo dataset made available to the community to improve our understanding of ocean biology and biogeochemistry. More impacts will emerge as the time series will increase in length and all the other 6 floats will be deployed. 
Title Near-real-time quality controlled radiometric profiles acquired by Bio-Argo floats 
Description Vertical profiles of Photosynthetically Available Radiation (PAR) and downward irradiance (Ed) at 3 wavelengths (380, 412 and 490 nm) are routinely acquired by autonomous Bio-Argo floats. The database here presented includes radiometric profiles that have been quality-controlled using a specifically developed procedure for real-time distribution of data. The procedure is aimed at verifying only the shape of profiles. In each profile, dark signal, atmospheric clouds, spikes and wave focusing are flagged in a way compliant with the Argo real-time data management system. These data are therefore totally adapted to derive optical quantities such as the diffuse light attenuation coefficients. No quality control on the measured irradiance quantity is performed, which would require development of delayed-mode quality-control procedures. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is the first quality controlled database of radiometric profiles collected by Biogeochemical Argo floats made available to the community. 
Description Collaboration with Institute of Marine Research, Bergen 
Organisation Norwegian Institute of Marine Research
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contributed intellectual input to analysis of data from biogeochemical profiling floats
Collaborator Contribution Contributed data on biogeochemical profiling floats and expertise in physical ocenaography
Impact Report on investigating the relationships between carbon supply and oxygen consumption in the mesopelagic region of the Norwegian Sea
Start Year 2013
Description Collaboration with LOV France 
Organisation Marine Optics and Remote Sensing Lab
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We contributed data from the Bio-Argo floats to the LOV group for public distribution.
Collaborator Contribution LOV has agreed to receive, host, and pre-process data from the Bio-Argo floats deployed. The preliminary data can now be seen in real time at the following web site: LOV has also provided invaluable support in testing and programming the floats before deployment.
Impact Reception, hosting and pre-processing of Bio-Argo data.
Start Year 2013
Description Global Biogeochemical Argo Network 
Organisation World Health Organization (WHO)
Country Global 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This recently born programme aims at designing and implementing a new global network of profiling floats measuring ocean biogeochemical properties. As leader of the UK BioArgo Network, Dr. Dall'Olmo was invited to participate in the first planning meeting for this network. He contributed results from an analysis of satellite ocean colour data to support the design of the network.
Collaborator Contribution Other collaborators provided leadership, experience and other design methods.
Impact The first output will be a white paper that summarises the results from the meeting and that will be submitted to the International Argo Steering Team and to the oceanographic community for feedback.
Start Year 2016