Western Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (WAIMOS)

Summary

Marine environments of northern and western Australia are strongly influenced by oceanic boundary currents off the coast. The longest and most unique of these is the Leeuwin Current that originates from the northern region of Australia influencing more than 2/3 of the continental slope and shelf regions of Australia as far as Tasmania.

The response of the equatorial Pacific to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation is transmitted from the western Pacific Ocean to the northern and then western Australian coast via the equatorial and coastal waveguides, so that the Western Australian marine environments are very sensitive to climate variability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Over the past 6 years, the Western Australian IMOS (WAIMOS) Node has been implemented to observe, monitor, simulate, and understand climate impacts through the variability of the oceanic boundary currents of northern and western Australia, and their influences on the continental shelf and coastal environments, marine ecosystems and biodiversity. 

At this stage the key science-questions are concerned with:

  • Multi-decadal variation, it’s regional structure, mechanisms, impact on the Leeuwin Current and ecosystems
  • Interannual climate variation and weather extremes (such as Ningaloo Niño), local versus remote forcing of the marine environment and ecosystems and regional feedback-dynamics, if it exists
  • Dynamical studies of the Leeuwin Current, its relationship to El Niño Southern Oscillation, its eddy-field and connectivity to inter-basin flows (Indonesian Throughflow and the Indo-Pacific supergyre)
  • Continental shelf and coastal processes, the relationship of shelf waters to offshore circulation (Holloway Current, Ningaloo Current, Capes Current, continental shelf waves and tides)
  • Ecosystem studies focussed on key species linked to exotic higher trophic level biota (e.g. krill in Perth canyon linked to Blue whales; small prey near Abrolhos Islands linked to nesting birds; larvae in the Leeuwin Current linked to juvenile bluefin tuna), drivers of water quality and benthic ecology, and their impacts of iconic fisheries and ecosystems

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