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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 l.jpg

Tropical Marine Sciences and Grids(?)

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


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  • 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

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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…

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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…

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Coral Bleaching…


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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.

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Towards better data, tools, understanding … and actions

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  • 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).

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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

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Where we are now…

Ningaloo Reefs

Agincourt Reef

Orpheus Island

Myrmidon Reef

Cleveland Bay

Davies Reef

Cape Bowling Green

Hardy Reef

Half-tide Rocks

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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

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  • Light

  • 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?!!

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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,


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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.

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  • Solar Cells:

    • Remote Platform + Sea Gulls

      =Guano + No power

  • Alternatives:

    • Fuel Cells (MeOH - approval)

    • Wind (Sea Gull approval pending); only large platforms

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Microwave Humidity Ducting(or how I learned to love heat & humidity)

Rx Level (dB)

G Woods, S Kininmonth &

I Atkinson, JCU

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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

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Wayne Mallett, HPC Toolboxes (APAC supported)

Multi-Matlab (APAC Supported)

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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

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Uptake of Web Enabled Codes at JCU

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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

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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;

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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;

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  • 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.

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  • 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).

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  • 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…