Last updated February 8, 2018 at 10:11 am
This is the Great Barrier Reef like you’ve never seen before.
All 1.5 million square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef have been mapped. This four-year project is a collaboration between Geoscience Australia, James Cook University, and the Australian Hydrographic Service.
This project collated millions of dollars’ worth of existing datasets from government sources including the Australian Hydrographic Service, along with new seafloor mapping data.
It combined the use of airborne LiDAR technology, a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges, and satellite data.
Using a field of science known as bathymetry, the study and the mapping of ocean depths, this data shows the Great Barrier Reef in incredible detail much like topography on land.
Through this project, they improved the resolution of the data from 250 metre resolution to 30 metre resolution.
“The Great Barrier Reef data is the first in a series of ‘30-metre’ datasets that will be released as part of this project,” said Dr Robin Beaman, the research project leader from James Cook University.
“This represents the highest resolution depth model of the Great Barrier Reef to date.”
The Great Barrier Reef is home to 3,000 identified coral reefs, with this data possibly able to help discover more. The data will be used for management and conservation of marine park. It will increase understand of climate change impacts, marine biodiversity, and species distributions. It will also improve modelling of tides and ocean currents, including helping to better predict storm surges on the coast.
Related: Catastrophic Science: Storm Surges
Beyond the environmental science applications, it will also help define the country’s maritime boundaries. The datasets will support safety of life at sea, the enforcement of law, and government operations.
They hope to continue to publicly release and gather more bathymetry data for the northern Australia coastlines.
The data is publicly available at Geosciences Australia here.