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22.05.2015 02:17 Age: 3 yrs
Category: Home Slider, WA-IMOS

Darwin Harbour safer for shipping with improved ability to predict conditions

The ability to monitor and predict ocean conditions in Darwin Harbour is crucial for maritime safety. Building on existing observation infrastructure, a new monitoring station in the Beagle Gulf is set to provide detailed information to assist decisions affecting commercial shipping and recreational boating in the Harbour.


Making technical adjustments to the Darwin NRS Buoy (Photo: Simon Spagnol, AIMS)

Deployment of the Darwin NRS Buoy. The pole on the far right side of the buoy contains instruments to measure water quality, and is lowered after deployment (Photo: Paul Rigby, AIMS)

A partnership between the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Darwin Port Corporation (DPC) has enabled a better understanding of factors affecting the harbor such as tides, currents, wave height and movement of sediment. 

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.

‘IMOS and AIMS have collaborated to collect, analyse and disseminate data for many years now. The information we receive from devices anchored out in the shipping channel is of great benefit to the operations and future of the port of Darwin and in fact anyone who uses the harbour,’ says Tim Moltmann, Director of the Integrated Marine Observing System.

The maritime safety and ecological conservation of Darwin Harbour depend on a range of factors. An understanding of these ensures the best use of resources to facilitate the growing industrial and recreational use of the harbour, while protecting its significant marine biodiversity.

The addition of a second mooring in the Beagle Gulf this weekend 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.

CEO of Darwin Port Corporation, Terry O’Connor, said “Our investment in the national reference station with IMOS and AIMS as partners has resulted in significant value for the Darwin Port Corporation.

“Investing in a second mooring will increase our ability to monitor and predict conditions in the harbor, helping us to manage safe and efficient shipping,” he says 

AIMS scientists based in Darwin and Townsville interpret the data and make it available for a variety of users, including for oceanographic and climate research.

‘Accurate, real-time data about harbour and ocean conditions allows us to create models to predict the weather in shipping channels. These models inform decisions on ways to improve harbour safety and to conserve the rich biodiversity in this area,’ says John Gunn, CEO of AIMS.

As well as providing crucial information for the DPC to operate the shipping channels effectively, local recreational boaties, yachties and fishers benefit from the data. 

A real-time stream of weather data from the Darwin NRS can be accessed in various formats:

 All the data from the NRS and Beagle Gulf moorings will be made freely available via the IMOS Ocean Portal .