Monitoring Australia's coastal currents with the IMOS HF radar network

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Observations of coastal ocean surface currents with high spatial and temporal resolution provide a critical tool for understanding physical and ecological processes, effectively managing maritime activities, environmental monitoring, and search and rescue operations. High-Frequency Radar (HFR) systems rely on Doppler backscatter observations in the HF (radio wave) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (3-50 MHz) to map near-surface currents on hourly timescales up to several hundred kilometres offshore. HFR systems at present provide the only way to measure currents at this scale, from ports to beyond the continental shelf, and have proven to be vital for directing oil-spill mitigation and search and rescue activity. The Ocean Radar facility at the University of Western Australia is part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a national collaborative research infrastructure tasked with collection and dissemination of ocean data. The radar facility has deployed and managed HFR systems around the coastline of Australia since 2010, resulting in up to almost a decade's worth of real-time and quality controlled data freely available to the public from: Coff's Harbour and Newcastle in NSW; Great Barrier Reef, QLD; Bonney Coast and South Australian Gulfs, SA; Rottnest Shelf and Turquoise Coast, WA; along with two new systems along the West Australian coast at Dongara (deployed early 2019) and Ningaloo (in construction). This paper summarises data availability and provides an overview of the data at select sites including coastal circulation features such as: East Australian Current mean flow and eddies, Bonney coast upwelling, South Australian Gulf shelf mean flow, variability, and extremes, Leeuwin and Capes current structure in south west Western Australia. The potential for the two new stations in Western Australia to support fisheries and assist in the mitigation of oil spills at Ningaloo are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralasian coasts and ports 2019 conference: future directions from 40 [degrees] S and beyond
PublisherEngineers Australia
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781925627237
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
EventAustralasian Coasts and Ports 2019 Conference - Hobart, Australia
Duration: 10 Sept 201913 Sept 2019


ConferenceAustralasian Coasts and Ports 2019 Conference


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