Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array

Monitoring the health of the ocean

The Mission

About the project

The Global Ocean Biogeochemistry (GO-BGC) Array is a project funded by the US National Science Foundation to build a global network of chemical and biological sensors that will monitor ocean health. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the University of Washington, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Princeton University will use this grant to build and deploy 500 robotic ocean-monitoring floats around the globe as part of NSF’s Mid-scale Research Infrastructure-2 program.

This new network of floats will collect data on the chemistry and the biology the ocean from the surface to a depth of 2,000 meters, augmenting the existing Argo array that monitors ocean temperature and salinity. Data streaming from the float array will be made freely available within a day of being collected via the Argo data system, and will be used by researchers around the world. These data will allow scientists to pursue fundamental questions concering ocean ecosystems, observe ocean health and productivity, and monitor the elemental cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in the ocean through all seasons of the year. Such essential data are needed to improve computer models of ocean fisheries and climate, and to monitor and forecast the effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification on sea life.

The GO-BGC Array is led by Director Ken Johnson and administered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and is supported by NSF Award 1946578.

For more information, see the press release.

This website will be updated as information and data become available, so check back soon.

Research ships have long served as the backbone of oceanography. But they are costly and it’s very difficult to collect data year round. The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling Project, or SOCCOM, was established with an eye to a future where an army of robotic floats could be deployed to monitor ocean health at all times of the year, and in all kinds of conditions—something not possible by scientists on boats—at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint.

Floats equipped with biogeochemical sensors make it possible to measure not only salinity and temperature, but also factors linked to biology… like pH, oxygen, nutrients and chlorophyll. Floats collect these ocean chemistry and biology observations between the surface and 2,000 meters deep. The data are transmitted back to shore via satellite and made freely available, in near real-time, so they can be used by researchers, educators, and policymakers around the world.


Collaborators from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of Washington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Princeton University

Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Lead Principal Investigator

Steve Riser

Steve Riser, University of Washington

Co-Principal Investigator

Jorge Sarmiento

Jorge Sarmiento, Princeton University

Co-Principal Investigator

Lynne Talley

Lynne Talley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Co-Principal Investigator

Susan Wijffels

Susan Wijffels, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Co-Principal Investigator

Heidi Cullen

Heidi Cullen, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Broader Impacts Lead

Andrea Fasbender

Andrea Fassbender, NOAA and MBARI Adjunct

Data Team Co-Lead

Alison Gray

Alison Gray, University of Washington

Float Production, Deployment, and Data Teams

Roberta Hotinski

Roberta Hotinski, Princeton University

Project Manager

Todd Martz

Todd Martz, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Float Production and Deployment Teams

George Matsumoto

George Matsumoto, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Broader Impacts Team

Roo Nicholson

David (Roo) Nicholson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Float Production and Data Teams

Sarah Purkey

Sarah Purkey, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Float Production and Data Teams

Yui Takeshita

Yui Takeshita, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Data Team Co-Lead, Sensor Production, and Calibration