eNewsletter Article

As this newsletter goes to press, the Steering Committee of the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub has just held its penultimate meeting and all of the projects not yet completed will move into their final wind-up activities over the next three months.

The e-Atlas team will be represented at the upcoming 2014 Winds of Zenadth Torres Strait cultural festival on Thursday Island from 9-12 September. This event is run every two years and brings together thousands of people from the region. The e-Atlas team will showcase the newly developed Torres Strait e-Atlas.

A workshop was held on the 5th August, exploring the impact of cumulative pressures on the Great Barrier Reef. The workshop was facilitated by Britta Schaffelke, AIMS, and summarized the outputs from all NERP water quality projects including 4.1, 4.2 and 5.2. The day focused on the measurement of the accumulation of impacts on reef organisms from simultaneous and sequential pressures which are diminishing the ability of the reef to recover to previous states (i.e. impaired resilience).

An Outlook Consensus workshop was organised and convened by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in Townsville on 14–16 October 2013 supported by ‘Contestable Funds’ from the Tropical Ecosystems Hub. The objective of the workshop was to secure an independent set of expert judgments about condition, trends and risks in the Great Barrier Reef Region that could be used to inform GBRMPA’s preparation of the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report.

Climate change and other evolving issues present both challenges and opportunities to Torres Strait communities. In order to assist communities and governance structures to think about the future, an ‘Adaptation Integration Workshop’ was held on Thursday Island from 23 July - 25 July. The workshop was led by CSIRO with support from TSRA.

CSIRO and JCU researchers from the Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP) have recently been engaging with Reef managers, stakeholders and industry representatives, to develop a monitoring framework for the social and economic aspects of ports and shipping in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

After three years of applied public good research to guide and assist policy, management and decision-making in the tropical ecosystems of northeastern Australia, Hub participants will meet in Cairns in November to present their work to a diverse audience.

Scientists recently published research in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin that reinforces the need for improved land management practices in order to prevent unnecessary sediment runoff that is affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr. Tara Clark (UQ)

Researchers from NERP Project 1.3 are well on their way to uncovering many of the Great Barrier Reef’s secrets by studying fossil and dead coral remains.

Their results have documented long term changes on coral reef ecosystems spanning thousands of years, as well as more recent change that coincides with human settlement on the Queensland coastline.

Prof. Scott Bainbridge (AIMS) and Dr. Scarla Weeks (UQ)

While the 2013-14 summer was cool, satellite data show that conditions have been developing that could lead to a warmer summer in 2014-15. Neutral ENSO conditions continued in the Pacific through January to May but the eastward propagation of an intense wave of warm water, known as a Kelvin Wave, across the tropical Pacific Ocean over the past several months, has led to a 70-80% probability of transition to El Niño conditions by spring 2014.


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