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Key environmental pressures

No severe climate-related pressures affected the inshore Reef over the 2020-21 summer. No major cyclone made landfall, and rainfall and river discharge were close to the long-term average.

However, environmental conditions varied between regions. Northern regions experienced a wetter wet season (Dec-April) in 2020-21 than in 2019-20, while it was drier in the southern regions with rainfall below long-term average. Cyclonic activity was mostly limited to mid-shelf and offshore reefs, although Tropical cyclone Imogen brought substantial rainfall to the central parts of the inshore Reef.

Read the Marine Monitoring Program Annual Report Inshore Water Quality Monitoring 2020-21

How did environmental pressures affect inshore water quality?

  • Inshore water quality findings:
  • Regionally, water quality was moderate in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, and Mackay-Whitsunday regions, and good in the Fitzroy.
  • Individual water quality indicators are monitored annually for compliance with water quality guideline values. The good news is that in general, concentrations of chlorophyll a and dissolved inorganic phosphorus have improved in most regions over the last five years. Additionally, total suspended solids concentrations are either improving or stable across all regions.
  • Secchi depth (an indication of water clarity) exceeded guideline values in most regions. In all regions, concentration of nitrogen (nitrate/nitrite and particulate nitrogen) was well above guideline values

What is monitored and where?

  • Inshore water quality is monitored for:
  • total suspended solids, turbidity, and Secchi depth (indicators of water clarity)
  • chlorophyll a (a measure of phytoplankton abundance, which responds quickly to nutrients)
  • nutrients (dissolved and particle forms of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon)
  • sea-surface temperature and salinity

Water quality is monitored in four regions: Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, and Mackay-Whitsunday.

Recently, the reporting of the Fitzroy region was made possible through the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Learn more on the Marine Monitoring Program Annual Report Quality Assurance and Quality Control Manual 2020-21

Created Tue, 2022-08-23 13:02
Updated 24 Aug 2022
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