Scientists install $500k tools to examine environmental effects of Cyclone Oma

As South East Queensland prepares to cop the effects of Cyclone Oma, scientists have installed innovative monitoring tools along coastlines to gauge the region’s resilience to wild weather.

With Cyclone Oma expected to wreak havoc along the SEQ coast, marine scientists from the University of Queensland, with support from Healthy Land and Water, have deployed the equipment in Pumicestone Passage and Bramble Bay.

The high-tech underwater equipment, valued at more than $500,000, uses soundwave technology to monitor how large waves, big swells and high tides impact the coastline and cause erosion.

The equipment also measures water quality, the speed of water flow and the level of mud in waterways.

Once collated, the data will be utilised by scientists to inform the best ways to build resilience into environmental ecosystems and man-made infrastructure so they can withstand extreme weather.

University of Queensland Senior Research Fellow Dr Alistair Grinham said the monitoring tools offer vital insight into where research and rehabilitation efforts should be focused.

“To help inform and manage environmental pressure and decide where to invest, you need good data, and this type of monitoring provides really useful data that offers significant insight into what is to come,” he said.

Dr Paul Maxwell

Dr Grinham said Bribie Island was a hotspot for coastal erosion and the monitoring tools would help scientists understand coastal erosion rates and what can be done to manage the issue in the future.

Healthy Land and Water Senior Principal Scientist Dr Paul Maxwell said the monitoring data will boost scientific understanding of the pressures on South East Queensland’s marine ecosystems.

“The population along our coastal areas continues to grow, and the threats to the community will also increase as extreme weather events intensify, so being able to understand how we can make the region more resilient is absolutely critical,” he said.

Dr Maxwell said the data will also be useful in determining the extent of mud in Moreton Bay.

“An analysis of mud levels was conducted recently, and another analysis will be conducted after the effects of Cyclone Oma have passed so we can generate a clear understanding of how much mud was distributed throughout the bay as a result of the cyclonic conditions.”

To learn more about water quality in South East Queensland, check out the 2018 Healthy Land and Water Report Card here

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