The ongoing need for IMOS was reinforced by the Australian Government, with significant, ongoing funding over the medium to long term announced in the May 2018 budget.
Funding is now secure to 2023, with strong prospects out to 2029 under the investment of an additional $1.9 billion (over 12 years) in the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
IMOS aims to successfully implement a sustained, extended and expanded program for the benefit of Australia’s society, economy and environment.
In the meeting on Monday the Board accepted all recommendations made. The Board drew heavily on advice from the IMOS Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC), as well as related inputs from user and stakeholder consultations facilitated by the IMOS office.
Mr John Gunn, Independent Chair of the IMOS Board, had this to say about the process:
“In reviewing the recommendations of the STAC and IMOS Office, the Board noted the significant challenge in making choices between high quality proposals for use of our increased funding.”
“We needed to balance allocations across the Broadscale, Backbone, Regional and Program components; to ensure we continue to invest appropriately in emerging science and observing technology areas, and objectively evaluate the success and impact of existing programs in order to achieve our goals of integration and excellence.”
“The detailed and comprehensive recommendations we reviewed were well founded and achieved this balance. Well done to all those involved in developing and reviewing the proposals!”
In total, 17% or $15M of available funding is being invested in new activities, whilst 83% is being invested to continue the current IMOS program. Importantly, the continuation budgets include indexation and capital replacement, and on average will be 15% per annum higher under the new funding arrangements.
The new activities include:
- The core Argo program will be continued and enhanced to include ice capable floats. A new Biogeochemical ArgoSub-Facility will be established.
- The Continuous Plankton Recorder program enhanced to include Southern Ocean phytoplankton.
- Support will be provided for a US-led proposal to redeploy the Indonesian Through Flow transport deep mooring array (if the proposal is successful).
- A new Event Based Sampling ocean glider capability will be established, initially focused on deploying gliders in marine heatwaves.
- The Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) integrated benthic monitoring program will be significantly enhanced, with related investment in marine image handling and analysis.
- New investment will be made in a National Reef Monitoring Network data facility to handle all data obtained during shallow reef surveys, including those conducted by Reef Life Survey and State conservation management agencies. All data holdings will be discoverable and accessible through the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN).
- New shelf mooring arrays will be added in the northern Great Barrier Reef and the Bonney Upwelling. Additional investment will also be provided to support a reconfiguration of mooring assets in North West Western Australia in response to user and stakeholder feedback.
- Sampling will be enhanced at our National Reference Station moorings to include larval fish monitoring (at five of the seven sites).
- A new Facility will be established to manage IMOS participation in the Australian Microbiome Initiative, a partnership with Bioplatforms Australia, CSIRO and Parks Australia. In addition to marine water sampling and analysis, IMOS is making new investments in DNA extraction and bioinformatics.
- In support of the microbiome program and other priorities, development of a low-cost Coastal Sampling Network will be piloted in the next stage. Priority locations will include the Great Barrier Reef, Botany Bay, Port Phillip Bay, and the South Australian Gulfs.
- A new Wave Buoy Sub-Facility will be established to deploy directional wave buoys, addressing key gaps identified through a national prioritisation process for Australian wind-waves research. Priority areas identified are Eastern Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
- The current Ocean Radar program will be continued and will take advantage of recent co-investment by NSW State Government, and by industry partners in Western Australia.
- The current Acoustic Animal Tracking program will be continued with some additional investment to support reconfiguration of the network so as to provide better information on priority species identified through the National (Fishing and Aquaculture) Research Providers’ Network. The animal tracking database will also be redeveloped.
- The Satellite Altimetry calibration/validation Sub-Facility will be enhanced to fully exploit the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission set to launch in 2021.
- The Ocean Colour Radiometry (OCR) Sub-Facility will be enhanced in response to recommendations made by the OCR Task Team.
- The Board has approved the establishment of a New Technology Proving capability to invest in bringing new technologies, methods, and approaches into the program.
IMOS Director, Tim Moltmann says “In total this provides a very exciting portfolio of marine research infrastructure. It will enable much greater value to be delivered from bigger datasets and longer time series, as well as taking IMOS in some exciting new directions.”
“We remain tremendously grateful to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training for the support provided to IMOS as a national collaborative research infrastructure, and we will work hard to ensure it is well used in the national interest.”
The IMOS Office will now work with Facility/Sub-Facility Leaders and operating institutions to put the necessary agreements in place so as to enable our new program of work to proceed as soon as possible.
Details not included above for the current Facility portfolio:
- Argo Australia– The core Argo program will be continued.
- Ships of Opportunity – All sub-facilities will be continued.
- Deep Water Moorings – The Southern Ocean Time Series observatory and East Australian Current transport array will be continued, noting our reliance on the Marine National Facility for vessel access to undertake this work.
- Ocean Gliders – The current program will be continued with guidance from the glider user group.
- Autonomous Underwater Vehicles(AUV) – The AUV-based integrated benthic monitoring program will be significantly enhanced as detailed above.
- National Mooring Network – The current shelf mooring program, the network of seven National Reference Stations and the Ocean Acidification Moorings will be continued.
- Ocean Radar - The current program will be continued.
- Acoustic Animal Tracking– The current program will be continued.
- Satellite Animal Tracking– The current program will be continued.
- Wireless Sensor Network– The current program will be continued.
- Satellite Remote Sensing– The current program will be continued.
- The AODN, IMOS OceanCurrentand IMOS Office are also being funded to continue at current levels.