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30.10.2015 03:29 Age: 2 yrs
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The IMOS Annual Highlights 2014-15 document is available now

The annual highlights clearly demonstrate the impact that is being delivered through systematic, sustained, integrated marine observing at a national scale in Australia.

Weddell seal. Image credit: Clive McMahon, SIMS

John Whittington (Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment), Professor Brigid Heywood (Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Research at UTAS), Tim Moltmann (IMOS Director), and Christine Coughanowr (Derwent Estuary Program Director) at the Hobart launch of the document.

This Annual Highlights document covers the ninth year of IMOS operation.  While the overall format is consistent with previous years, the internal structure has been modified to better align with the IMOS 2015-2025 Strategy, which is based around Need, Capability, and Impact

Under each of the priority research themes in the document, the Need for systematic and sustained observing of Australia’s marine environment is outlined.  This is followed by a description of the observing and data management Capability created and developed through IMOS facilities.  Highlights of Impact delivered using IMOS infrastructure are then provided for the year under review.

IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann writes in his overview, "the annual highlights for 2014-15 clearly demonstrate how impact is being delivered through systematic, sustained, integrated marine observing at a national scale.  Something that simply couldn’t be done without IMOS in place."

The ability to measure changes in ocean heat content with Argo floats is now at an unprecedented level, and observations from tagged elephant seals have created landmark datasets for temperature and salinity at high latitudes where other platforms can’t go.  Precision measurements used to validate satellite altimeters have improved the long-term record of sea level rise, and smart use of real time observations is enabling reporting of anomalous ocean conditions on a daily basis. 

The ocean glider fleet has provided a step-change increase in availability of sub-surface measurements in the water column all around Australia, and use of autonomous underwater vehicles has enabled large-scale monitoring of kelp forests on the seafloor.  The national animal tracking network is revealing previously unknown linkages between shark populations ranging over long distances, and acoustic observatories are allowing us to characterise and quantify the marine soundscape that includes both natural and man-made noise.

Many of the 2014-15 highlights are things that have been done for the first time in Australia. 

Many of them have resulted in Australian scientists producing high impact science outputs with strong international collaboration.  Journal publications using IMOS data increased by 36% year on year, with a significant number in prestigious international journals.  Research projects using IMOS data increased by 20%, including new projects with direct application to policy setting and management of resources in the Australian marine environment.

As a research infrastructure, IMOS must maintain a consistent standard of delivery.  Observations and data have to be made available for use by the community if we are going to enable great science with high impact.  Funding agreements with the Department of Education & Training included 268 milestones for the 2014-15 year.  Of this total, 90% were achieved in full with a further 7% in progress at 30 June 2015.  This provides hard evidence of the outstanding job being done by all partners who collaborate in operating this large, complex, national research infrastructure.  Together they are making IMOS work.

It is clear that our focus on benefit for Australia needs to be unrelenting, and the achievements of 2014-15 augur well for the future. 

In July 2015, IMOS played a leading role in establishing an Australian Forum for Operational Oceanography which will focus on improved safety and efficiency of marine industries.  The National Marine Science Plan released in August 2015 is aimed at driving development of Australia’s ‘blue economy’, and it calls for IMOS to be sustained and expanded. 

With such a strong capability now in place, we are confident that IMOS is well positioned to have continuing impact in response to evolving needs, as expressed through these and other national prioritisation processes. 

We hope you enjoy reading this IMOS Annual Highlights document for 2014-15.

Click on the front cover below to read the document.