This summer I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Sabine Mecking and Dr. Kyla Drushka on a project studying Argo floats with an interest in Oxygen.
Oxygen is a great tool for Oceanographers to use to analyze changes in the ocean; whether these be due to natural cycles, climate change, and so forth. This is due to Oxygen’s great sensitivity to changes in temperature, currents, and respiration. The typical way oceanographers take samples of Oxygen is by sampling off of research vessels. However, this method limits the locations that oxygen can be sampled from. The new method in question however for sampling Oxygen, is by taking measurements from Argo floats. Argo floats historically have been deployed by the thousands into the ocean throughout the world to take measurements in salinity, temperature, etc., but only recently have been fitted to take Oxygen measurements. This summer, we selected specific floats in the North Pacific to analyze the ability of Argo to record Oxygen data, as well as it’s limitations.
There were three points of view we focused on this summer while analyzing the Argo data. The first was looking at Oxygen concentrations as a function of depth. We were pleased to see the data reflect patterns and numbers that we already knew to be true, as well as reflect characteristics such as the shifting in mixed layer depth moving from the East Pacific to the West. The second way we looked at the data was by observing the concentration of Oxygen over time in a specific given density: an isopycnal. We chose isopycnals around density anomaly 26.6, and were able to observe patterns in decrease of Oxygen concentration over time. Moving forward with this method, we would like to be able to collect more data as well as develop stronger QC’s to increase our confidence level in the data. The third way we looked at the data was by comparing temperature and oxygen concentrations at the surface over time. We were able to detect interesting patterns of increase in variability in temperature and Oxygen concentrations over time in several regions, but like stated before, would like to be able to collect more data from the floats as well as develop stronger QC’s.
Overall, Argo looks to be a very promising method of observing Oxygen changes in the ocean on a larger level. I’m excited to see the development of this method to better our understanding of oxygen in the ocean, as well as being able to survey a greater area than we have before.