Report on AIMS river nutrient data collected from downstream sites in major Queensland rivers draining to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, 1987-2000

Mitchell, Alan, Brodie, Jon, and Furnas, Miles (2010) Report on AIMS river nutrient data collected from downstream sites in major Queensland rivers draining to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, 1987-2000. Report. James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia. (Unpublished)

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[Extract] Description of sampling program

Streams draining to the GBR coast were generally sampled from bridges along the BruceHighway. This highway was convenient for most rivers, far enough downstream to incorporate the bulk of the catchment area and its inputs, but far enough upstream to be within freshwater and out of the estuary, at least during wet-season flows. The principal objective of the sampling program was to determine nutrient loads carried by the major rivers adjacent to the Central-Southern sections of the GBR, for use in the compilation of a nutrient budget of the GBR shelf. River-nutrient data available at the time of this program’s commencement (late 1980s) were poor and had mostly been collected during dry-season periods. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) persuaded local professional staff to sample on our behalf where possible (e.g. Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations[BSES], Tully) or paid local personnel a small per-sample fee for collection. Considerable funding assistance was provided by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Six major rivers were sampled extensively, the Barron, South Johnstone, Tully, Herbert, Burdekin and Fitzroy. These rivers covered much of the Wet Tropics and the two main rivers of the Dry Tropics. Emphasis was given to wet-season sampling because of the crucial importance of this period to load calculations and because of the likely dynamic changes in nutrient concentrations during rainfall events. Collection personnel were asked to sample using a rainfall-mediated strategy, to sample sparsely until actual wet-season rainfall events, then to actively sample during these events, tapering off as the event concluded. Intensive sampling was then to be recommenced with the next rainfall event, though the whole wet season. This strategy worked better in some rivers than in others, the success largely dependent on the enthusiasm and commitment of the collection personnel. Clearly, rivers of the Wet Tropics, which have multiple wet-season discharge peaks, require greater sampling effort to capture these peaks than do rivers of the Dry Tropics, which typically only have one or two broad discharge peaks per year. A rank of these major data sets for their usefulness is given in Table 1. The author regularly visited these collection personnel, refreshing supplies and returning to AIMS with the frozen water samples for analysis. During these collection trips, the author also took samples of convenience at the major rivers and also at rivers and creeks in between these. The latter streams included Alligator Creek, Haughton River and Barratta Creek to the south, and North Johnstone River, Russell River and Mulgrave River to the north. Unfortunately, sampling was quite intermittent in these small collections, so these small datasets are of much less value than the major data sets. They typically involve dry-season rather than wet-season sampling.

Item ID: 35875
Item Type: Report (Report)
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2016 00:21
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 100%
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