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World Ocean Circulation Experiment

The first significant use of improved ocean observing technology was during the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) in the 1990s for both research and operational oceanography. WOCE employed radar satellites that continuously monitored the shape of the ocean surface to improve understanding of ocean features and as validation for ocean models. The data collected in WOCE were also used to improve existing ocean models used for global climate prediction. Operational uses included assimilating temperature and salinity data into global ocean models. Battery-operated, neutrally buoyant floats that were the forerunners of today’s Argo float collected these data. These early instruments stayed at a specified depth and surfaced every few weeks so that satellites could monitor their position and determine subsurface currents. These early floats were then modified to take temperature and salinity profiles.