New, lower-cost help may soon be on the way to help manage one of the biggest threats facing the Great Barrier Reef.
That threat is pollution from land making its way downstream by way of the many rivers and streams that flow into coastal waters along the reef.
The size of the reef – which stretches for 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast – makes it extremely hard to get an idea of what’s happening in real-time.
Now, in collaboration with scientists at the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS) have developed statistical predictive tools that could lead to the deployment of many more low-cost sensors in those rivers and streams.
“At present, there are less than 50 long-term river monitoring stations providing information that informs programs related to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. That means there are thousands of kilometres of coastal lands and waterways where we have limited information,” Dr Catherine Leigh, an ACEMS Associate Investigator with QUT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, said.
There is an opportunity to infill at a finer scale with lower cost sensors. However, at this stage, low cost sensors aren’t yet able to show the two things that are most important in determining water quality. Those are direct measures of sediments and nutrients. Sediments can smother plants and animals. Nutrients are important for life, but an imbalance can lead to a variety of problems. What the low cost sensors do measure are turbidity and conductivity. Turbidity is a measure of water clarity, and conductivity reflects the levels of ions like salt in the water.
In research just published in PLOS One, the ACEMS team developed statistical tools to take that turbidity and conductivity data and predict levels of sediments and nutrients in the water.
“They’re really the key things water agencies are looking for, both in what their values are and how they are changing over time,” Dr Leigh said.
The sensor data were provided by the Water Quality and Investigations (WQI) Team with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. By being able to predict levels of sediment and nutrients, managers can look toward automating the sensor process.
“Right now, someone has to physically go to where the monitoring station is, get a sample, take it back to a lab and test it. If we can automate this process with the sensors, we can get a lot more frequent predictions of what’s happening,” Dr Sevvandi Kandanaarachchi, an ACEMS Associate Investigator in the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash University said.
“Predicting these quantities is important because if they suddenly change, then that’s an indication that something with the system needs to be looked into.”
Dr Leigh hopes the project will lead to the deployment of many more low-cost sensors. She also says they’re looking into developing an app that farmers and other landowners can use.
“They’re keen to make sure they’re not wasting nutrients, that what they use is taken up by the plants on the land and not end up in a stream,” Dr Leigh said. “They’re also keen to reduce land erosion.”
In work published earlier this year, the ACEMS and WQI teams showed how to detect anomalies in the sensor data. In other words, they needed ways to show if a sensor wasn’t working properly.
“You want to know that the data you’re collecting is good before you go and predict something else,” Dr Leigh said.
This new research will also help answer questions like where to place the sensors, how many are needed in certain places, and whether they need to be moved around.
“The big picture is making sure certain things that could hurt the reef and our rivers don’t end up in a stream. If they do, that we can act in a timely fashion to figure what’s happening and why,” Dr Leigh said.
The Latest on: Great Barrier Reef
via Google News
The Latest on: Great Barrier Reef
- Five things travellers can do to protect the Great Barrier Reefon October 12, 2019 at 9:03 am
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is spearheaded by Andy Ridley, creator of the Earth Hour global movement. The group is a network of individuals, organisations and businesses working to conserve the ...
- The Great Barrier Reef dies due to climate changeon October 9, 2019 at 12:02 pm
These suits will continue to grow and could have massive effects on the sector, akin to legal actions against tobacco. A Great Barrier Reef die-off would introduce a new set of plaintiffs, such as ...
- Warren Entsch: Envoy to the Great Barrier Reef position legitimate or PR exercise?on October 7, 2019 at 3:02 am
WARREN Entsch’s first four months as Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef have raised questions over whether the position is more than just a PR exercise. The Leichhardt MP has been afforded two ...
- Boy, 14, is rushed to hospital after sting ray attack on the Great Barrier Reefon October 6, 2019 at 3:45 pm
A 14-year-old boy has been rushed to hospital after he was stung by a sting ray while swimming on the Great Barrier Reef. The teenager was stung at Double Island, about 30km north of Cairns, about ...
- Why superyachts may be lured to Cairns to participate in a survey of the Great Barrier Reefon October 6, 2019 at 12:00 pm
A MASSIVE aquatic survey of the Great Barrier Reef being undertaken next year is hoped to lure more multimillion-dollar superyachts to the Far North’s waters. Representatives from the Superyacht Group ...
- This unit near the Great Barrier Reef could be yours for just $28,000on October 4, 2019 at 3:14 pm
Also read: Castles, islands, vineyards: Airbnb launches new ‘Luxe’ accommodation Also read: Pictures: Private island on sale for $18 million For just $28,000 you can purchase a studio apartment in ...
- Government holds $5million beach clean up to save Great Barrier Reefon October 4, 2019 at 7:00 am
Now in its second year, the LNP’s $5 million, five-year “Reef Clean” program requires a force of volunteers to hit the region’s beaches and collect rubbish, with each piece recorded on a national data ...
- Highly Poisonous Fungus Found Near Great Barrier Reef In Australiaon October 3, 2019 at 7:48 am
A highly poisonous fungus, with toxins that can be absorbed through the skin, has been identified for the first time in the rain forest near the Great Barrier Reef, Australian scientists said on ...
- The longest Great Barrier Reef study chronicles a century of devastationon October 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Known as the Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928, its crew spent a year exploring and documenting the Low Isles. Their precise recordings of each community's location allowed modern-day marine ...
- Rare squid egg mass resembling a Slinky emerges from the Great Barrier Reefon October 2, 2019 at 6:02 am
(Ocean Safari/Facebook) A two-meter long cluster of squid eggs has been captured on camera. The astonishing sight was pictured at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by Brooke Nikora, who works at dive ...
via Bing News