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Our Vision: A global array that makes low-cost time series ocean measurements.

Envision a highly accurate data set from a thousand fixed sites throughout the world's oceans that details upper and lower ocean properties including density, nutrients, DpCO2, and surface meteorology reported hourly in near real-time over the last 50 years. Would this enable NOAA and the global community to respond to the regional climate and marine ecological challenges we face today?

Continuous Measurements from the Deep Ocean in Real Time
"Advanced technology makes the ocean visible"
                                                    ... Ocean Sites brochure
Conceptual future
Designed to be a component of the
Global Ocean Observing System
Sponsored by the NOAA Office of Climate Observation

Fifty years ago, we had neither the technology nor the vision to make this kind of information gathering possible. Today, we have both. But will we support and embrace the opportunity it represents?

The need is clear.

The growing awareness of climate change, the significance of ENSO, PDO and NAO type cycles, and the implication to the protein supply from the oceans argues for more in-situ data. Consider:

  • Satellites alone, even with their enhanced capabilities, will never penetrate the subsurface oceanic environment.

  • The few sites that have long time series such as HOTS in the Pacific and BATS in the Atlantic have gained the attention of the scientific community more for their longevity than for their location or specific observations.

  • High frequency sampling of surface and near surface parameters from fixed surface floats have intrinsic value unobtainable by free drifters of any sort.

Project Goals:

  1. Cost Containment: Our goal to deploy thousands of floats around the world could not be realized if the units were built one at a time in a research institution setting. Since deployment on a global scale is necessary to achieve this program's full value to the research community, we advocate a significant element of the engineering effort be focused on achieving program goals at low cost.

  2. Safe and simplified deployments: PICO is designed to simplify the deployment process from the shipping floor to the seafloor. The modular components are palletized at the manufacturing site and loaded onto the ship ready to deploy. The reduced size and weight from conventional moorings allow flexibility in deployment platforms and can even be deployed from small fishing vessels.

  3. Designed for Integration: The modular components are assembled and integrated at the manufacturing site with a minimum amount of specialized knowledge and tools. The fully assembled PICO system is then easily loaded onto the ship in a single package ready to deploy.

  4. Vandal Resistant: The small surface expression is not easily seen by radar or eyes. The fully enclosed design does not allow for easy boarding or theft of instruments.

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