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Marine Sensor Network

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29 March 2006

A pilot digital monitoring network incorporating hundreds of sensors around the world will be launched within months according to a workshop of international scientists and engineers meeting in Townsville today.

It is the first time that Australia has hosted the Coral Reef Environmental Observatory Network CREON, which is a collaborating association of specialists from around the world striving to design and build marine sensor networks.

AIMS spatial analyst Stuart Kininmonth said it is hoped the first stage of the much-anticipated network will be installed across an area of 400 kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef - Davies Reef, Magnetic Island, Heron Island and Orpheus Island.

"That is the main purpose of the workshop, to establish a universal system that can be implemented globally."

The 60 remote sensing experts meeting this week have been trying to solve some of the technical challenges posed by the marine environment such as fouling and data transmission, issues that are not prevalent on the mainland.

The network is currently trialling sensors at sites in Moorea in French Polynesia, the Kenting coral reef group in Taiwan, the Florida Keys and the Great Barrier Reef.

So far we have successfully transmitted data over 80 kms using microwave transmissions trapped inside humidity ducts. This has enabled us to link isolated reefs with broadband speeds.

The technology is housed in a canister no bigger than a 600ml drink bottle and has the capacity to monitor salinity, humidity, temperature, light, water flow and sediments.

The sensors set for mooring on the Great Barrier Reef are undergoing testing at JCU and AIMS and can be programmed remotely by scientists hundreds of kilometres away at AIMS headquarters.

"This system has the potential to monitor the extent of the marine estate from river mouths to reefs, helping to answer many unanswered questions.

Questions related to coral bleaching, reef wide temperature fluctuations, impact of temperature on aquatic life, and pollution Mr Kininmonth said.

The Centre for Marine Studies at the University of Queensland are represented at the workshop and will collaborate with subsequent deployments. The AIMS @ JCU program has enabled the collaboration on the international project.




Media Contacts:

Wendy Ellery , AIMS Media Liaison

Phone: 07 4753 4409

Stuart Kininmonth , AIMS scientist and foundation member of CREON

Phone: 0439 673 546

Assoc. Prof Ian Atkinson from JCU

Phone: 0407 169 586

Prof. Bernard Pailthorpe from UQ/QPSF

Phone: 0421 059 494