Weather data is critical for understanding the physical environment in which marine life exists. The weather drives surface waves, water temperature and the water flows that transport nutrients, and thus plays a direct part in determining:
- timing of coral and fish spawning
- why some areas have higher productivity than others
- patterns of species distribution.
The data collected by our network of weather stations represents the best long-term, on-reef record of climate and climate events in the region, with some stations having operated for over 30 years. In a world of change this provides an essential baseline against which we can measure and understand current conditions.
They provide essential information to the meteorological and scientific communities as well as an important source of information to the local boating community. The stations provide real-time data every 10 minutes on above-water meteorological conditions and in-water temperatures.
AIMS operates 16 stations in the Great Barrier Reef region from Torres Strait in the north to Heron Island in the southern Reef. Additional stations have been deployed in Darwin (Northern Territory) and in the Ningaloo reef complex (Western Australia).
Stations are either located on existing infrastructure such as tourist pontoons and channel markers, or on infrastructure developed by AIMS.
What we monitor
Weather stations record climatic conditions including air temperature, wind speed, wind direction and barometric pressure. They record water temperatures at various depths and the amount of above-water photosynthetically active radiation. A small number of stations also include above- and below-water cameras.
Cyclones and other weather events
The AIMS weather stations have recorded information for significant weather events such as tropical cyclone Yasi, which traversed the central Reef in 2011, tropical cyclone Ita, which passed over the northern Reef in 2014, and warm-water events such as the one that preceded the 1998 coral bleaching event.
- For more information contact Scott Bainbridge.
- Data from the AIMS weather stations is available online.
- The weather stations are built and maintained by AIMS but funded and supported by a range of organisations including the Integrated Marine Observing System and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.