From HMS Challenger to Argo and beyond

From HMS Challenger to Argo and beyond

Ocean profile data; their history, uses and future prospects.


Wednesday 21 November  2018.


A one-day meeting jointly sponsored by the History Groups of


 The Royal Meteorological Society and The Challenger Society for Marine Science. 




Knowledge of the temperature and salinity of the oceans is fundamental to our understanding of their internal dynamics and is increasingly important to a wide range of ocean and climate applications.  This meeting will show how our ability to collect, process and collate these observations has developed up to the present day with the information from about 3,800 Argo profilers provides global-scale, high-quality information throughout the year.

The meeting will then show how these individual profiles are assembled into products and how those products are used in a wide range of applications, including climate change studies.  To conclude, the meeting will first explore the international framework within which these data are collected and co-ordinated. Finally it will look towards the future, discussing how the collection of ocean profile data is expected to expand to other parameters and using new observing systems.

We plan that there will be opportunities to see Argo floats being prepared for deployment, together with the wide range of NOC’s ocean gliders and autonomous vehicles that will be an integral part of the future of ocean profiling. 

While focused on the scientific aspects of ocean profiles, the meeting will highlight key points in the development over the past 140 years of our present-day capabilities.






10.30 – 11.00

Tea and Coffee


11.00 – 11.10


Prof. Chris Folland

Met Office Fellow (retired)

11.10 – 11.40

From thermometers to robots  - evolution and revolution

Dr John Gould

Emeritus Fellow, NOC Southampton.

11.40 – 12.10

Argo  - How it came about, how it works, what it delivers

Dr Brian King

NOC, Southampton

12.10 – 12.40

How good are past and present ocean profile data?

Dr Victor Gouretski,

Chinese Academy of Sciences

12.40 – 13.40

Lunch/exhibits/lab tour


13.40 – 14.10

Making a data product from ocean profiles – the EN4 experience.

Dr Rachel Killick

Met Office

14.10 – 14.40

How ocean profile products are used – climate change applications.

Drs Matthew Palmer, Laura Jackson

Met Office

14.40 – 15.10

How products are used – seasonal – decadal  forecasts.

Dr Leon Hermanson

Met Office

15.10 – 15.30

Refreshment Break


15.30 – 16.00

Global Coordination of Ocean Observations: Progress, challenges and opportunities

Dr Katy Hill

WMO, Geneva

16.00 – 16.30

Beyond Argo: ocean gliders and sensors on seals

Prof. Karen Heywood

University of East Anglia

16.30 – 17.00

Wrap-up discussion and time to explore what the Challenger Soc. and Roy. Met. Soc. might do to promote the coverage of marine science history.




To Register: Registration now closed.


Support for student participation

Applications for student bursaries have now closed



Directions to the NOC 

For directions to the NOC please click here 


Supported by 





The National Oceanography Centre 

European Way

Southampton, Hampshire 

SO14 3ZH