Designing an effective and sustainable AMOC observing system (WP5)

Objective: Design, and deploy elements of, a next generation observing system for the entire system of the AMOC. 


  • Define the requirements for an AMOC observing system;
  • Evaluate drift-free pressure sensors and satellite measurements for AMOC observing;
  • Evaluate new biogeochemical sensors for long-term moored observations;
  • Evaluate glider-based methods to capture volume, heat and freshwater transports through Fram Strait;
  • Design a fit-for-purpose AMOC observing system capitalising on new AMOC understanding generated within EPOC, and recent technological and methodological advances.

Since 2004 and the deployment of the RAPID 26°N array, a large number of observing arrays have been deployed to monitor the strength and variability of AMOC transports.  These observing arrays universally focus on a narrow latitude band and are used to diagnose local sources of transport variability and regional impacts.  In order to achieve a step change in our understanding of the large-scale ocean circulation and its role in climate, we need to reassess our observing strategy in order to build on the knowledge gained from existing arrays, capitalise on recent technological developments (Argo profiling floats since ~2004, underwater gliders since ~2007, satellite gravimetry since ~2002, swath altimetry from 2022), and to enable a whole-basin understanding of the AMOC and its function in the Earth system.  We will develop new observing system experiment (OSE) tools that are model-agnostic (can be deployed in model output irrespective of model-type), incorporating earth observation and distributed platform observing as well as traditional mooring arrays, and that can be used to develop a fit-for-purpose whole-basin AMOC observing system to monitor change, improve models and provide an early warning system for rapid changes.  We will additional perform trial deployments of new technology including new BGC sensors in order to assess their performance on long deployments and for the purpose of capturing BGC transports associated with the AMOC and large-scale gyre circulations. 

The workshop on “Meeting AMOC observing needs in a changing climate” in Hamburg, July 2023 addresses the topic of this WP: