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Monitoring reef survival

Supplier: Campbell Scientific Australia By: Steve Bailey
09 February, 2009

Campbell Scientific products are instrumental in monitoring the Great Barrier Reef.

Like a patient at risk of a heart attack, Australia's famed Great Barrier Reef is being hooked up to a high-tech monitoring system. The Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (otherwise known as GBROOS), will monitor conditions crucial to the reef’s survival and provide an early warning from its biggest threat – global warming.

GBROOS is a network of observing systems that will provide real-time measurements over much of the reef’s 2000 km length. The project is also part of a national program to study oceans around Australia, the Integrated Marine Observing System. (See www.imos.org.au for more details.)

Townsville's Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) will lead the project as part of a consortium, which also includes James Cook University, Great Barrier Reef Island Research Stations, University of Melbourne and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

GBROOS will consist of sensor networks on offshore reefs between Cooktown and Gladstone where automatic weather stations are already deployed. With the first data to be available by mid 2009, it is planned that installation of the seven reef-based sensor networks will be completed at these locations by the end of 2009. At each location, sensors will monitor water temperature, salinity and the intrusion of nutrients from ocean upwelling.

Approximately thirty Campbell Scientific CR1000 data loggers and RF411 spread spectrum radio modules are used within the sensor networks to measure and transmit data between sites. The high accuracy sensors measure temperature, conductivity & pressure while an inductive modem is used by the CR1000 data logger to interrogate the various underwater sensors at each site. Campbell RF411 spread spectrum radio modems are used to transmit data from each CR1000 back to the network hub.

To transmit data from each network hub back to the land-based research stations, the GBROOS network will use a blend of communication technologies including high-frequency coastal radar, experimental over-the-horizon microwave technology and the 3G mobile phone network.