29 Apr 2024
Project News

AquaWatch Coastal Water Quality Pilot develops innovative new visualisation tool

29 Apr 2024

A project to develop a new visualisation tool for an AquaWatch Coastal Water Quality Pilot, co-funded by SmartSat and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is now delivering its first results.

The project, which looked at the integration of satellite and in situ observations with ecosystem modelling data streams for water quality understanding in two Australian coastal ecosystems, was established to demonstrate the success of the AquaWatch ground-to-space water quality monitoring system concept on a pilot scale for Australian coastal water bodies.

The visualisation tool has been tested at two AquaWatch pilot sites: Moreton Bay in southeast Queensland and Cockburn Sound in Western Australia. These sites were chosen due to impact to their respective Aquaculture and coastal environments through port developments and associated industrial effects. These pilot sites provided testbeds for researchers to investigate new technologies that integrate space and novel ground-based sensor data into a user-friendly visualisation tool.

Critical to the project were the partnerships established with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Western Australian Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER), to whom the value of integrated technologies could be demonstrated. It is hoped that the visualisation tool and data collection methods could one day be developed to meet each department’s needs to assist in the management of complex ecosystems.

The user-friendly, web-based visualisation tool combines hydrodynamic modelling, remote sensing and other ecological data to allow users interactive and comprehensive exploration and analysis of the site. The prototype tool was well received by the stakeholders at DAF, whose advice, support and knowledge of the local systems greatly informed the success of the tool.

The tool allows users to better study the complex ocean circulation patterns of Moreton Bay in relation to the water quality and the prevalence and causes of white spot disease in the area through the analysis of spatiotemporal patterns. This is all determined using satellite and sensor technology.

Project Leader Tim Malthus from CSIRO led the development process for the visualisation took.  

“For optically deep water, we generated satellite-based water quality products for the period of interest from these results. For the modelling data we generated summaries of wind and current vectors to highlight changing circulation patterns across different seasons. To view the vectors in animation considerably enhanced the interpretation of water quality patterns seen across Moreton Bay,” he said.

The next steps in development of this tool will include additional optical characterisation of the Moreton Bay coast, as well as further evaluation of the water quality measurement systems.

Read more about Project P3.15 AquaWatch Coastal Water Quality Pilot: Integration of satellite and in situ observations with ecosystem modelling data streams for water quality understanding in two Australian coastal ecosystems on the SmartSat website. Find out more about the AquaWatch Australia Mission on CSIRO’s website.