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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Oceanographic Instruments

The Map of the Week shows the position of oceanographic instruments, including underwater gliders, ferrybox systems and Argo floats.


This week, people across the world have come together at the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon (Portugal) and online. The conference opened with a call for urgent action to tackle ocean emergency. In addition to the plenary sessions, there were Interactive Dialogues, Special Events and many side events. [1] On this occasion, the European Commission launched the Mission Charter which calls for joining efforts to achieve the objectives of the Mission ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030’.

The importance of ocean literacy and education was highlighted in several side events. Two examples include:

  • the Ocean Literacy Dialogues co-organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), the European Commission and the EU4Ocean Coalition that marked the beginning of a process to look into the shared commitments that can be brought together to support ocean literacy across the globe and that will culminate at the next session of the UN Ocean Conference.
  • the ‘Ocean as a global common’ side event coordinated by the Youth4Ocean Forum in collaboration with EU4Ocean Coalition members which focused on connecting generations of stakeholders through storytelling.

Data is key to understanding how we influence the ocean and how the ocean influences us. Did you know that there are map layers showing the position of oceanographic instruments that automatically collect ocean data and monitor the seas in the European Atlas of the Seas? The Map of the Week combines three map layers showing respectively underwater gliders, ferrybox systems and argo floats:

  • Underwater gliders follow an up-and-down, sawtooth-like profile through the water. Gliders typically have a range of sensors taking measurements such as temperature, conductivity (to calculate salinity), currents, chlorophyll fluorescence (a proxy for phytoplankton), optical backscatter, bottom depth, and (occasionally) acoustic backscatter.
  • Ferrybox systems are added to volunteer ships such as commercial vessels and research vessels. The ferrybox is fitted with different sensors that automatically collect data relating to the physical (e.g. salinity, temperature, turbidity), chemical (nutrients, pH, O2, CO2, and dissolved organic carbon) and biological (e.g. chlorophyll, a proxy for phytoplankton (microscopic plants) ocean parameters.
  • Argo is a global array of 3,800 free-drifting profiling floats that collect environmental ocean data, including measurements of the temperature and salinity of and current velocity (speed) of the upper 2,000 m of the ocean. The Argo floats are automated with data transmitted and made publicly available within a few hours after collection.

Click on the instruments on the map to learn more!

Access the map

The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.