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South Africa joins global Argo community

An Argo float is deployed.
Research into the role of the Agulhas system in ocean circulation and climate has enjoyed significant coverage in the international media over the last few months. SAEON’s Dr Juliet Hermes is one of the co-authors on whose work the articles are based.
Source: Erik van Sebille, RSMAS
Dr Juliet Hermes in Buenos Aires.

Although South Africa has played a key role in the deployment of Argo floats in the past, it was only in 2009 that SAEON, in partnership with the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP), initiated the purchase and deployment of the first two SA-owned Argo floats.

Since then SAEON has provided all logistics and maintained support for the two floats. The Argo float programme and data remain the key focus of the SAEON Egagasini Node’s education outreach programme. Based on this, South Africa has been officially welcomed into the Argo community and was invited to sit on the Argo Steering Team.

The motivation and work behind South Africa’s involvement has come from a number of different institutions and individuals. Dr Juliet Hermes, Manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node and Prof Chris Reason, Head of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Oceanography Department, initially motivated the purchase of floats through SANAP, and SAEON agreed to partner in the project. Dr Isabelle Ansorge, Senior Lecturer at UCT’s Department of Oceanography provided input throughout and was instrumental in the deployment of the floats. Johan Stander of South African Weather Services (SAWS) also provided support for the project and is lobbying for more funding through SAWS to purchase additional floats.

"The purchase and deployment of further Argo floats in the oceans surrounding South Africa would be key to improving observations in the region."

Argo Steering Meeting

SAEON’s Dr Juliet Hermes attended the 12th Argo Steering Team Meeting which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in March. All costs of the trip were covered by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Prior to the meeting, Juliet put together a national report consisting of information on key marine institutes and plans over the next five years. Juliet also presented on the SAEON Egagasini Node’s education outreach programme, which is based on Argo float data.

Says Juliet: “The three-day meeting was extremely interesting, in particular the science being done via Argo and some of the products available. As always, meeting some of the key people involved in the programme proved to be extremely valuable and several new connections were made.”

Juliet was also able to provide information to the Argo community on the work being done in South Africa, including cruises and key contact people. Her attendance at the meeting met with a very positive response. Her presentation on SAEON’s education programme was well received and resulted in considerable interest in potential collaborations and in how the programme could be expanded within other countries.

“Overall South Africa’s attendance at the meeting has certainly been worthwhile,” Juliet says, adding that while the education programme run by the Egagasini Node is certainly a key aspect of our involvement, it is strongly recommended that a science programme be built up around Argo float data, perhaps through student projects, model validation, etc. The purchase and deployment of further Argo floats in the oceans surrounding South Africa would be key to improving observations in the region as well as maintaining a presence in the Argo community.

In conclusion, Juliet suggests that a more formal Argo plan be put together, involving key parties such as SAWS and UCT. If you have any further ideas/ input on an Argo plan/ science programme, please contact Juliet on

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