Coastal Research and Management Project (not active)

Eighty five per cent of Australia's population lives within 50km of the coastline, mostly around estuaries and other coastal waterways. With increasing population and catchment land-use pressures, estuaries and coastal waterways are experiencing ever-declining water qualities, and the situation is expected to worsen as a result of climate change.

Geoscience Australia's Coastal Research and Management project is no longer active but its work provides information on how estuaries and coastal waterways function in terms of their biogeochemistry. This information is used by coastal managers to better understand the processes responsible for deteriorating water quality.

Nutrient sources and sinks were studied in South Australia's Coorong, lower lakes, including Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, and River Murray mouth in collaboration with the CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship External site link and the associated Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth CLLAMMecology External site link research cluster. In this project we studied water quality in the Coorong, where salinities are up to six times the level of normal sea water and seagrass areas, fish and bird abundances have declined dramatically over recent decades as a result of insufficient freshwater inflow.

Sediment and nutrient retention and transformation were studied in tropical estuaries as part of the project on Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) External site link, which is funded through the Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities External site link program and associated funding partners. In this project, the impact of urbanisation on nutrient cycling in the intertidal mudflats of Darwin Harbour were investigated. Parts of the harbour are affected by urban run-off as well as sewage outfalls, both of which contribute additional nutrients to the system.

Estuarine water quality assessments and the development of estuarine health indicators were completed in the estuaries of south-western Australia in collaboration with the Western Australian Department of Water. These estuaries have experienced some of the worst water quality in Australia with toxic algal blooms and fish kills being common in some systems.

Topic contact: Last updated: June 21, 2013