The water quality of the inshore Great Barrier Reef is influenced by land runoff , delivering substantial amounts of suspended sediment, nutrients and contaminants to the GBR lagoon. These can adversely affect marine organisms including coral reefs.
Regular monitoring of the water quality and the condition of the inshore coral reefs delivers information on how the GBR lagoon is changing over time and whether certain regions are more affected by land runoff than others.
AIMS also monitors the physical conditions and water quality on a GBR lagoon-wide scale to better understand how this dynamic marine system functions.
AIMS is involved in several water quality monitoring programs.
- GBROOS- AIMS is coordinating the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (GBROOS) node of the nation-wide Integrated Marine Observing Scheme (IMOS), which includes high-frequency and broad-scale water quality in the GBR. This includes using "underway" sensor systems installed on vessels that traverse the GBR.
- Chlorophyll Monitoring- The only long-term and broad-scale water quality project in the GBR region is the long-term "chlorophyll a" monitoring program, established in 1992 by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and continuing as part of the Reef Plan Marine Monitoring Program.
- Reef Plan- In 2005 AIMS became an integral partner in monitoring for the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, an initiative of the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland State Government to halt and reverse the decline in water quality entering the GBR. As part of the Reef Plan, AIMS monitors water quality in the GBR lagoon and thecondition of inshore coral reefs.
- Monitoring inshore reefsInshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef cover only a small part of the World Heritage Area, but their health has high significance. Due to their closeness to the land, inshore reefs are extensively used for recreational activities such as fishing. They are exposed to river runoff and sources of pollution from the adjacent catchment, coastal development and shipping and many are located where bleaching risk is potentially high.