This Annual Highlights document covers the tenth year of IMOS operation. A related document entitled “From Observations to Impact” has been prepared to celebrate the first decade of IMOS. However we believe it is also important to continue the Annual Highlights series so as to provide accountability for the 2015-16 year.
Consistent with previous years, 2015-16 Impacts are reported against each of the five major research themes that unify IMOS science plans and related observations i.e.
- Long-term ocean change
- Climate variability and weather extremes
- Boundary currents
- Continental shelf and coastal processes, and
- Ecosystem responses.
IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann says, "the value of systematic and sustained observing, integrated across scales and variables, can be clearly seen in the 2015-16 Impacts."
Sustaining IMOS over ten years to date has enabled us to build big data sets to do big science. Highlights include use of Argo profiling float data to track and understand the ocean’s role in the planetary energy balance, use of surface carbon measurements to provide new information about the ocean’s role as a carbon sink, and integrated biophysical observations documenting the impacts of ocean warming on marine ecosystems including the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
As an island continent, ocean circulation is particularly important for Australia’s climate and weather, the productivity of its marine ecosystems, and the intensity of ocean interactions with coastal infrastructure. Highlights include a world-first dataset on Southern Ocean wave climate, unprecedented measurements of East Australian Current transport, and new understanding of how warm water from the tropical Pacific Ocean finds its way to Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.
IMOS is a research infrastructure operating national, collaborative facilities. The power of this way of working can be seen in the discovery of dense water shelf cascades in northwest West Australia, north Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The importance of this continental shelf process was previously unknown. The discovery that it is actually widespread could not have been made without a national ocean glider facility. New insights into movement of bull sharks between Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef were similarly enabled by the IMOS national animal tracking network.
Increasing emphasis is being placed on extracting maximum value from our datasets, and adding additional value through analyses and products. Highlights include new datasets published in the Nature Scientific Data journal, and publication of Plankton 2015, the first ever comprehensive report on the state of Australia’s ocean as seen through the eyes of plankton.
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 236 milestones for the 2015-16 year. Of this total, 90% were achieved in full with the remaining 10% in progress at 30 June 2016. 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.
The Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) provides a pathway for IMOS to be sustained into a second decade. This is a very welcome development. The Australian marine science community is strongly engaged with development of the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap which will guide future investment.
We hope you enjoy reading this IMOS Annual Highlights document for 2015-16.