Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings

What are Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings?

Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings collect key oceanographic data from shelf arrays located in the northern tropics along the Great Barrier Reef and the north west region of Western Australia. The mooring array provides near real-time and delayed mode observations of physical oceanographic conditions of the regions and water quality measurements. The Great Barrier Reef array is located along the outer reef, monitoring western boundary currents of the Coral Sea, the East Australian Current and the Gulf of Papua Current. The north west array in Western Australia are strategically located to monitor the Holloway and Leeuwin Currents and complement Deep Water Arrays located in the Indonesian Throughflow.  

Queensland and Northern Australia Moorings are also responsible for maintaining both the Darwin and Yongala (Great Barrier Reef) National Reference Stations.

Key Data Streams

The Queensland Great Barrier Reef (GBR) regional moorings include Myrmidon Reef and Palm Passage in the Central GBR and Capricorn Channel, Heron South and One Tree East in the Southern GBR. The objective is to observe the cross-shelf exchange of water between the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, with the design allowing water moving along and onto the Great Barrier Reef to be measured by monitoring the southward flowing East Australian Current and the equatorward Gulf of Papua Current. The moorings hold a range of instrumentation including Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) and WetLabs Water Quality Meters (WQMs) that measure current velocity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, fluorescence, temperature and depth.

In Northern Australia, four regional shelf moorings are located in the Timor Sea, extending from the Timor Trough to Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. These moorings comprise the Indonesian Throughflow Shelf Transect, which was deployed in June 2011.  This was an important first step in the enhanced monitoring of northern Australian waters.  These shelf moorings complement the Deep Water Moorings that have be deployed in the Timor Passage and Ombai Strait to monitor inter-basin Indian-Pacific Ocean exchange.

The Darwin National Reference Station (NRS), is one of only seven such facilities in Australia. Deployed on a channel marker at the start of the fairway, it has been providing valuable information to the Darwin Port Corporation since 2009. Sensors on the reference station provide data on over 30 parameters every 30 minutes. These include wind direction and speed, wave height and water velocity. In partnership between the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Darwin Port Corporation (DPC) a second mooring was added in the Beagle Gulf. The mooring was upgraded to near real time in September 2014.These moorings will expand our understanding of the factors influencing coastal systems and serve as an early warning system. It will provide alerts of approaching weather and allow forecasting of waves and current at key sites along the shipping channel.

Moorings in the Northwest Shelf have been decommissioned.

Craig Steinberg