Arafura Timor Research Facility


Research at the Arafura Timor Research Facility (ATRF) focuses on coastal ecology, especially the effects of coastal development.

ATRF was founded as a joint venture between AIMS and the Australian National University in 2005. Its mission includes supporting marine science across northern Australia and other countries bordering the Arafura and Timor Seas (Indonesia, New Guinea and Timor Leste).

Study locations include Darwin Harbour, the adjacent Beagle and Van Diemen Gulfs, and the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also the hub for the North Australia Marine Research Alliance (NAMRA), which shares our tropical focus.

As a result of our Darwin Harbour work:

  • navigation and shipping operations are safer
  • port development and maintenance operations (such as dredging) are conducted with a better understanding of tidal currents and sediment transport
  • discharges from urban activities can be diminished or their assimilation improved
  • better information is available for urban planning around the harbour.

AIMS has also gathered information on baseline environmental conditions in the Northern Territory coastal zone, where we have studied the effects of regional mining and industrial operations.

Our research outcomes include:

  • physical, chemical and microbiological information for operators and regulators to decrease the environmental footprint of mining and industrial activities
  • impartial and expert advice on likely effects of changed operational parameters, accidental spills or extreme events
  • the design and implementation of monitoring programs to gather critical environmental information
  • information on tides, currents, water and sediment quality, microbial activity and habitat mapping for all coastal stakeholders.