Coastal and Ocean Observing


Sensor pole on Lizard Island, GBR

AIMS is a major operator of Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a nationwide collaborative program designed to observe the oceans around Australia.

Ocean observing systems allow data to be recorded, in a sustained way, in areas that are expensive or difficult to access.

IMOS delivers physical, chemical, biological and oceanographic data that supports valuable research addressing critical issues of national and international significance and provides knowledge to underpin the protection and sustainable management of the marine environment.  

From Gladstone on the east coast through to Ningaloo on the west coast, AIMS deploys and maintains infrastructure and instrumentation in Queensland, across northern Australia and in Western Australia through two ‘nodes' of the IMOS program:

Deploying an IMOS mooring in northern Australia

Data streams of water temperature, salinity, ocean acidity and water quality (turbidity, fluorescence, dissolved oxygen), both at the surface but also through the full water depth, provide important context for current observations on life in the ocean.

Scientists are using this data to monitor changes in our oceans related to a changing climate and forecast likely future changes and events, such as coral bleaching or the impacts of cyclones.

Data from over 20 instrumented moorings and three National Reference Stations are providing valuable insight into the East Australian Current, the influence of Coral Sea upwellings on productivity of the Great Barrier Reef, and the effect of rising ocean temperatures on the incidence of coral bleaching in Australia's tropical  marine jurisdiction.

Innovations at AIMS through IMOS include: 

  • Deployment of moorings at new locations across northern Australia, giving new knowledge  into the impact of our oceans on coastal systems.
  • The world's largest wireless sensor network on coral reefs which streams data in real time.
  • Deployment of robotic gliders in the Coral Sea where research vessel surveys are sparse and irregular.
  • Deployment of arrays of acoustic receivers to track mobile animals such as sharks, fish, turtles and whales.
  • Satellite receiving groundstations which collect next generation environmental satellite data.

IMOS data is freely available and searchable on the IMOS Ocean Portal.

IMOS is an Australian Government initiative established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Super Science Initiative and is supported by Queensland and Western Australian State Governments.