Monitoring water quality

The water quality of the inshore Great Barrier Reef is influenced by land-derived runoff, which can deliver large amounts of suspended sediment, nutrients and contaminants, especially during high rainfall events.

AIMS monitors the long-term condition and trend in Reef water quality through three programs:

  • Inshore water quality monitoring as part of the Marine Monitoring ProgramThis program measures physical (temperature, salinity, and suspended sediment), biological (chlorophyll), and chemical (nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon) parameters at inshore sites of the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, and Mackay Whitsunday regions of the Great Barrier Reef.

    The Marine Monitoring Program – Inshore Water Quality is a partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, AIMS, James Cook University, and the Cape York Water Monitoring Partnership.

  • Fitzroy Basin Marine Monitoring Program for Inshore Water Quality measures the condition and trend of coastal waters between the Fitzroy River mouth and North Keppel Island. This region-specific program complements the Marine Monitoring Program, tracking inshore water quality in this high-priority region.  

    This four-year Program began in 2021 and is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and AIMS.

  • Mid-shelf and offshore monitoring as part of the Queensland node (Q-IMOS) of the nationwide Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).

    This program maintains oceanographic moorings that continuously monitor temperature, salinity, turbidity, and chlorophyll at selected sites in the Great Barrier Reef. Monthly measurements of chemical and biological variables are also conducted at the Yongala National Reference Station.

These programs contribute to the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, a joint commitment of the Australian and Queensland governments that seeks to improve the quality of water flowing from the catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

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