In partnership with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and in close collaboration with the Joint Centre for Oceanographic and Marine Meteorological Observing Programme Support (JCOMMOPS), Boris Herrmann has deployed a scientific Argo float, donated by Ifremer (Argo-France Program), during his Vendee Arctique Race.

Holding on to 6th position, at 17:28 UTC on 08.07.2020 Boris deployed the Argo float from Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco (formerly Malizia) near to Iceland - the location and its path can be viewed here.

Boris commented“It is really interesting for us to help scientists to better understand climate change and our Ocean. This is something that I have been doing for some time in different forms and although as a racing sailor we are always trying to make our boats as light as possible, our partners and I believe that carrying this extra weight is worthwhile considering the benefit the data is providing to the scientific community and the climate operational centres.”

Before the race, Boris commented:“During the Vendee Arctique Race we carry an Argo float – which is an autonomous profiling float weighing about 20kg. We deploy this in a specific zone determined by scientists and their scientific needs. This will be around in this region for 4-5 years and will automatically send temperature, salinity and pressure data of the top 2000 m of the ocean back home”

Martin Kramp, Ships coordinator at JCOMMOPS commented,“The sailing boats of the IMOCA Class, such as Boris Herrmann’s Seaexplorer, are a great contribution to ocean observations, helping scientists to fill in critical observational gaps and collect crucial data in very remote areas. This partnership is very precious especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic, when our ability to observe the global ocean was strongly impacted.”

Boris is well aware of the importance of these Argo floats as they deliver reliable and accurate oceanographic data for the professional sailors and this is not the first time he has deployed a scientific device. During the Transat Jacque Vabre race in October 2019, Boris and co-skipper Will Harris deployed an oceanographic drifting buoy capable of measuring surface pressure and surface temperature. The deployment of this observing system was coordinated by JCOMMOPS. 

The Argo profiling float Boris deployed will measure temperature, salinity and pressure profiles down to 2,000 m below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean during ten-day cycles. When the float surfaces, it will use the Argos satellite telemetry system to relay collected data. The data will be processed by the CLS Argos data processing centre and be posted to the Global Telecommunication System (GTS) for integration into climate and weather prediction models.

Team Malizia’s long-standing partnership with The Yacht Club de Monaco and now additionally with Kuehne+Nagel, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd and MSC has allowed the team to also upgrade their onboard ocean CO2 sensor. The onboard sensor is constantly measuring ocean data during this 2807 miles race over 10-12 days, including ocean surface CO2 and transmitting this data back to scientists at the Max Planck Institute, GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) and Ifremer.

Boris explained the instrument prior to the race:
“Our automated SubCtech ocean laboratory measures ocean C02 and other variables. This is quite challenging as you need quite a lot of power and it can only be done from a vessel. To know how much CO2 is in the ocean is important in terms of climate change and this is valuable data for our partner scientists. As we travel through remote ocean areas, we are proud to carry this device in order to further scientific knowledge.” The data that Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco retrieves will eventually be submitted to the worldwide SOCAT database where it will be made available to all scientists around the world.

Dr Toste Tanhua of GEOMAR, Kiel, commented:  "The partnership between scientists, the sailors and the sponsors is very valuable to support collecting these important variables for ocean health and climate - ocean CO2 cannot be measured from space and we need more observations to better understand the ocean’s role in climate and how that is changing with time. In particular, since the race yachts tend to cross ocean areas not regularly frequented by commercial vessels, some of whom also do similar observations.”

Additional Info
The deployment of these ocean monitoring systems has been made possible due to an innovative partnership between the offshore sailing IMOCA class and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, under the coordination of JCOMMOPS to equip competitive sailing boats with state-of-the-art scientific equipment, enabling observations of the ocean and the collection of data for forecasting and climate modelling. The operational deployment activities are coordinated by JCOMMOPS - a collaboration between the IOC and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) - which internationally coordinates around 10,000 in situ ocean observing instruments for the continuous monitoring of the global ocean and the atmosphere above it.

From Team Malizia

More about the program here