The effects of river run-off on water clarity across the central Great Barrier Reef

Fabricius, K.E, Logan, M., Weeks, S., and Brodie, J. (2014) The effects of river run-off on water clarity across the central Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 84 (1-2). pp. 191-200.

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Abstract

Changes in water clarity across the shallow continental shelf of the central Great Barrier Reef were investigated from ten years of daily river load, oceanographic and MODIS-Aqua data. Mean photic depth (i.e., the depth of 10% of surface irradiance) was related to river loads after statistical removal of wave and tidal effects. Across the ~25,000 km2 area, photic depth was strongly related to river freshwater and phosphorus loads (R2 = 0.65 and 0.51, respectively). In the six wetter years, photic depth was reduced by 19.8% and below water quality guidelines for 156 days, compared to 9 days in the drier years. After onset of the seasonal river floods, photic depth was reduced for on average 6–8 months, gradually returning to clearer baseline values. Relationships were strongest inshore and midshelf (~12–80 km from the coast), and weaker near the chronically turbid coast. The data show that reductions in river loads would measurably improve shelf water clarity, with significant ecosystem health benefits.

Item ID: 35895
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3363
Keywords: turbidity, photic depth, generalized additive mixed models, Great Barrier Reef, nutrient runoff, river floods
Additional Information:

Crown Copyright © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Funders: Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Tropical Ecosystems Hub
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2014 06:16
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 100%
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