Tag Archives: Great Barrier Reef

The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

A hidden reef exists behind the Great Barrier Reef—but it’s three times bigger than previously thought, constructed by algae, and made up of doughnut-shaped mounds.

Uncovering the true scale of the 6,000 km2 structure was made possible by airborne laser mapping technology LiDAR, provided by the Royal Australian Navy.

It has implications for the Great Barrier Reef’s habitat mapping and conservation zoning, as well as providing possible insights into past climates.

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Mapping species and coral bleaching by drone

Advanced, miniature cameras on drones are capturing details of landscapes that have previously been invisible. QUT researchers are using them to fly low over reefs, capturing almost 100 times the colours captured by standard cameras.

“High-altitude surveys of reefs may lack the resolution necessary to identify individual corals or bleaching effects,” says Associate Professor Felipe Gonzalez, who is leading a team of researchers and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) engineers from QUT in a partnership project between QUT and the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS).

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Robo reef protector

A fleet of autonomous robots is being developed by Queensland scientists to kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub of QUT are working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create the RangerBot, following successful field trials of QUT’s COTSBot in 2016.

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Does coral help create rain?

Researchers have found that coral reefs may play a key role in cloud formation. Now they’re working to make climate modelling more accurate.

Australian and international scientists, led by QUT’s Professor Zoran Ristovski, spent a month in late 2016 collecting data on airborne particles emitted from the Great Barrier Reef, which they are now analysing.

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Technology to save the reefs—Queensland University of Technology

Mapping reefs with drones; robots destroying crown-of-thorns starfish; coral as a rain-maker; and more—researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating new technologies to protect Australia’s reefs.

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Australian Academy of Science Early-career Awards

Julie Arblaster’s climate research is helping to explain the climate of the Australian region, particularly the ozone hole, El Niño, the monsoon, and Australian rainfall variability.

David Warton is driving data analysis in ecology, making it a more predictive science. His tools are influencing statistics across science and industry.

Christian Turney has pioneered new ways of combining climate models with records of past climate change spanning from hundreds to thousands of years.

Maria Seton has redefined the way we reconstruct the movement of continental plates and contributed to studies on the effect ocean basin changes have had on global long-term sea level and ocean chemistry. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science Early-career Awards

Motor races and science labs fuel interest in science

Each year in early July, when its 700 students are on holiday, Townsville State High School becomes the headquarters for a V8 Supercars race.

Sarah Chapman and student. Credit: Nicole Waters

But before and after the race, Sarah Chapman’s Year 11 science students are hard at work, slopping their way through the nearby mangroves and wading into the neighbouring estuary. The data they collect is then used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to manage the impact of the race on local estuaries. “The students are really taken by the idea that they are finding out things nobody else knows,” Sarah says.

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Land clearing harms Reef water quality

Coastal land clearing has led to poor water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and threats to reef animals, according to the first data providing evidence of the damage.

Land clearing and acidification threaten the Great Barrier Reef.

The Water Quality and Ecosystem Health research team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science has collected 20 years of data, which shows the connection between high rates of land clearing and reduced reef water quality in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Our analyses show that water quality in the lagoon dropped significantly during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period that coincided with very high rates of vegetation clearing on land adjacent to rivers,” says research team leader, Britta Schaffelke.

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