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Tropical Marine Sciences and Grids(?). Ian Atkinson(JCU), Scott Bainbridge & Stuart Kininmonth (AIMS) AIMS@JCU AIMS.

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tropical marine sciences and grids

Tropical Marine Sciences and Grids(?)

Ian Atkinson(JCU), Scott Bainbridge & Stuart Kininmonth (AIMS)


  • Australian Government Marine Research Agency;
  • Around 200 staff in Townsville, Darwin and Perth;
  • Established in 1973, operated initially in the Great Barrier Reef but now internationally;
  • Focus on tropical marine systems:
    • Coral reefs and fishes
    • Mangroves and near-shore systems
    • Bio-tech / bio prospecting / drug discovery
    • Oceanography / remote sensing
the challenge of the tropics
The Challenge of the Tropics
  • Most of worlds population are contained within Tropical regions; fastest growing populations
  • Climate change has greatest impact
    • E.g. C4 plants under threat with increased [CO2]
    • Impact of storms and droughts
  • Few of the worlds tropical cities are in developing regions
    • Resource constrained
    • Source of Greatest Biodiversity!
    • Going to undergo huge change in coming decades
    • Vulnerable, massive geopolitical challenges are growing
    • We need new ideas and models…
coral reefs
Coral Reefs…
  • Globally these systems are in crisis
  • The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is one of the best managed
    • GBR consists of 3500 reefs along 2500 Km coast line;
    • Globally 20% of reefs have been destroyed, another 24% are immediately threatened, a further 26 are also threatened;
    • Main impacts are global warming (via coral bleaching and storm damage), un-sustainable use and changes in coastal use patterns (river run-off, land based pollution, etc).

Complete collapse of regionally critical fisheries is now common place…

coral bleaching
Coral Bleaching…


rate of adaptation
Rate of adaptation…
  • Our change of traditional usage patterns is slow (e.g. continuing to fish unviable systems)
  • Regulatory agencies seems slow respond
  • Public opinion is often slower…
    • The result is crisis management
  • We NEED
    • Better tools, data and accessibility
    • To move from a reactive to a pre-emptive mode of management.

This will be a decades long journey.

  • Dramatically change our levels of understanding;
  • Integration between systems and data sources
    • Met systems, navigation systems, security monitoring, true ocean observing systems, tourist systems, etc.;
  • Play a small part in understanding of large scale systems and how these are changing (global warming, etc).
aims weather stations
AIMS Weather Stations
  • 10 reef or island based weather stations
  • Half hourly recordings of ambient environmental conditions
  • Water temperature
  • Use HF Radio / CDMA / GSM communications
  • Data stored at AIMS and made available via the web

where we are now
Where we are now…

Ningaloo Reefs

Agincourt Reef

Orpheus Island

Myrmidon Reef

Cleveland Bay

Davies Reef

Cape Bowling Green

Hardy Reef

Half-tide Rocks

scales of reef science
Scales of Reef Science
  • Individual Coral (µm, mm, cm)
    • growth rates, coral structures
  • Coral Bommie (m)
    • Mix of species, temperature / nutrient gradients etc.
  • Reef (km)
  • Inter Reef & Lagoon (10-100’s km)
    • Currents, river plumes, larval migration
  • Global
sensor nets


  • Temperature
  • 2-axis acceleration
  • Movement
  • 30-100 M range

Sensor Nets
  • Designed to meet the specific experiments or tasks
  • Unique experimental platforms

- measurements at different time and spatial scales

  • Different data (and metadata) formats / management
  • Highly specialized and customized
  • Lack of well documented and generalized abstractions

Price: 30 Euro

Pragma to fix?!!

sensors on the gbr demand
Sensors on the GBR: Demand?
  • ‘Ideal’ environment to showcase Sensor Network & E-Research applications
    • Vast, Massively coupled, Huge quantity of historic data
    • But many complex data synthesis and ‘visualisation’ challenges
  • Long Term Project & Goals
    • Need data (historic and real time)
    • Integration, Modeling
    • Science and Policy outcomes
  • Satellite Remote Sensing
    • Very valuable, Clouds…

Larry Movie from Rob Newman,


sensor net problems
Sensor Net: Problems
  • Highly Regulated:
    • GBRMPA, Slow deployment
  • Deployment is hard and expensive
  • Communications Issues
    • Vast distances, unreliable, variable rates
  • Power and Sensor Issues
    • Need redundancy, local intelligence
  • Two - way communications - intelligence in middleware (sensors power budget)
  • Video & image analysis critical.
  • Solar Cells:
    • Remote Platform + Sea Gulls

=Guano + No power

  • Alternatives:
    • Fuel Cells (MeOH - approval)
    • Wind (Sea Gull approval pending); only large platforms
microwave humidity ducting or how i learned to love heat humidity
Microwave Humidity Ducting(or how I learned to love heat & humidity)

Rx Level (dB)

G Woods, S Kininmonth &

I Atkinson, JCU

costal radars codar
Costal Radars (CODAR)
  • HF ocean surface radar to monitor surface currents, wind directions and wave heights
  • Capricorn and Bunker Group of reefs and islands in the southern part of the GBR
  • 100 x100 km, 3km pixel
  • April 2006 deployment

Mal Heron, JCU

failing neutrality
Failing Neutrality?
  • ‘neutral theory of biodiversity’ is the basis of all Marine Parks.
  • Concept is shown to be untrue for corals
  • location and environmental change play a critical role in determining what sorts of corals settle and flourish
it data biology remote toxin monitoring
IT & Data & Biology- Remote Toxin Monitoring

CDMA Broadband Modem

OQO Windows XP Ultra

Running Java Programs

USB Field Microscope

Laboratory Analysis, results by e-mail within an hour

Oyster or other shellfish

where we need to be
Where we need to be…
  • Real-time “smart” sensor network over the GBR linked into adaptive models and feeding into visual GIS Environmental Monitoring Information Systems.
  • We have some progress:
    • “humidity ducted” microwave;
    • Long term power via Solar, and wind to large towers
    • Reef Structures in place
    • Testing Ambient Systems motes
  • To there is so much more
    • Further developing & deploying the
    • Middleware including meta-data standards, data discovery, exploration and exchange;
    • Setting and using standard methods to ensure inter-operability;
the platform
The Platform
  • Remote reef based structures;
  • Flexible, standard design;
  • Solar / wind / fuel cell power options;
  • 20 year design life;
  • Up to twice yearly service trips if required;
  • HF Radio and potentially CDMA / GSM / microwave communications;
  • Environmentally friendly;
  • Marine fouling, servicing and maintenance (the problem of cyclones!)
  • Marine communication – reliability in an unpredictable world
  • Data Volumes and processing (waving not drowning)
  • Extracting the knowledge – what does it all mean?
  • Making it useful – the ‘so what’ factor
  • Making it essential – integrating the data and systems and processes into the management, regulatory and science frameworks.
  • Dramatically change our levels of understanding;
  • Integration with other systems – Met systems, navigation system, security monitoring, true ocean observing systems, tourist systems, etc.;
  • Play a small part in understanding of large scale systems and how these are changing (global warming, etc).
Root cause is identified as Air Conditioning failure with resulting overheating of DWDM line card.
  • Replacement DWDM line card cleared down alarms, but was causing signal degrade alarms at Tarong.
  • After analysing fault, it was suspected that the new card was faulty.
  • Original card was re-installed again OK
  • Air conditioner unit had failed due to ant infestation.
  • Air conditioner to be repaired first thing tomorrow…