Your access to IMOS National Reference Station Mooring data discovery and exploration is through the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) Portal.

The National Reference Station Network was designed to provide a framework for integrating both the national and regional components of the observing system. National components include integration of long-term time series of observations more spatially distributed and intensive short –term studies, establishing a coastal information infrastructure through development of national data standards and providing calibration and validation of coastal remote sensing.

On the regional scale the National Reference Stations provide focal points around which regional integrations can occur with other facilities including regional moorings, ocean gliders, AUVs, ocean radar, animal tracking and sensor networks.

The frequency of sampling at each site provides the opportunity for analysis at all temporal scales. Daily or weekly events which would not be detected by monthly samples can be studied, such as tides, respiration over daily cycles, diurnal migrations of the plankton and stratification of the water column. On larger temporal scales, events, which had the potential to be missed with single samples per month, can also be detected. Bias for low sampling in bad weather can be overcome, and events associated with bad weather, such as re‐suspension of sediments and episodic events can be sampled. An example of an episodic event was capture by the salinity and turbidity sensors at the North Stradbroke Island NRS during large scale flooding events in 2010-11 (van den Honert RC, McAneney,2011)). As freshwater carrying flood debris and sediments moved out of coastal catchments, the stations 20 m CTD sensor detected an increased variability in surface salinity (see figure 1), while the sensor deployed near the sea floor detected an increase in turbidity.

Important ecosystem relationships and changes that are missed with monthly, seasonal or annual sampling can be resolved. This is particularly important for coastal systems that can be highly influenced by catchment events such as floods causing sediment plumes. Events are particularly important for plankton, which have lifecycles of weeks to months. Frequent sampling is thus needed to obtain the timing of peak abundance and avoid aliasing of the signal. Phytoplankton blooms, upwelling events and eddies can all occur at rates that make them unlikely to be detected by a single monthly sample (see figure 2).

Data processing and Quality Control

For many of the parameters collected by the NRS, quality control processes and data standards are needed.

The program has invested substantial time and effort into developing methodological tools for integrated biogeochemical sampling systems, methods for extracting and processing profiling sensor data and general data quality control standards for high frequency data. Documents related to quality control and sampling procedures can be found in the documentation page in the main National Mooring Network webpage.

In addition, as part of the broader ANMN facility a Matlab Toolbox ( ) was developed in conjunction with eMII that allows for parsing of data from a wide variety of instruments and basic quality control of data streams.


van den Honert RC, McAneney J (2011) The 2011 Brisbane floods: causes, impacts and implications.

Water. 3: 1149–1173. doi: 10.3390/w3041149.

Lynch, T, Morello, E, Evans, K, Richardson, A, Steinberg, C, Roughan, M, Thompson, P, Middleton, J, Feng, M, Brando, V, Tilbrook, B, Ridgway, K, Allen, S, Doherty, P, Hill, K, Moltmann, T 2014, IMOS National Reference Stations: a continental scaled physical, chemical and biological coastal observing system, PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 12, e113652, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113652