In a world of change, AIMS' network of weather stations provide the long term consistent records we need to understand how the weather and waters of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are changing.
Automated Weather Stations
These stations have been operating for a number of decades and provide a critical source of long term quality environmental data.
AIMS runs 16 stations from Masig (Yorke) Island in the north of the Torres Strait down to Heron and One Tree Islands in the southern GBR. Additional stations have also been deployed in Darwin and in the Ningaloo Reef complex of Western Australia.
Stations are located on existing infrastructure such as: tourist pontoons (Agincourt and Hardy Reef), channel markers (Cleveland Bay and Madge Reef) or on infrastructure developed by AIMS such as the Davies Reef tower or smaller reef poles.
What they monitor
The permanent weather stations monitor climatic conditions including air temperature, wind speed, wind direction and barometric pressure. They also record water temperatures at various depths and the amount of above-water photosynthetically active radiation, which is relevant to coral photosynthesis.
A small number of stations also include above and below-water cameras which provide a record of weather and other events.
Why this is important
The weather has a strong influence on the marine environment - from determining surface waves, changing the temperature of the water and in creating and maintaining water flows that transport nutrients from one place to another.
Weather data is therefore critical for understanding the physical environment in which marine life exists. We know it plays a direct part in determining:
- the timing of coral and fish spawning;
- why some areas have higher productivity than others; and
- in shaping the patterns of species abundance and distribution.
The AIMS weather stations support a range of environmental and metrological science and continue to provide the long term baseline data against which we can understand how species live their lives.
Cyclones and other weather events
The AIMS weather stations have recorded information for a number of large weather events, including Tropical Cyclone Yasi that traversed the central GBR in 2011, and a number of warm water events including the one that preceded the coral bleaching event at some reefs in 1998.
The Institute designs, developed and deploys the stations with over 16 stations currently in operation. It also has extensive experience in real time observing systems which has been utilised in other projects such as the Q-IMOS Project.
The stations are managed by Mr Scott Bainbridge.