Towards environmental management of water turbidity within open coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef

Rachael K. Macdonald, Peter V. Ridd, James C. Whinney, Piers Larcombe, David T. Neil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Water turbidity and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) are commonly used as part of marine monitoring and water quality plans. Current management plans utilise threshold SSC values derived from mean-annual turbidity concentrations. Little published work documents typical ranges of turbidity for reefs within open coastal waters. Here, time-series turbidity measurements from 61 sites in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Moreton Bay, Australia, are presented as turbidity exceedance curves and derivatives. This contributes to the understanding of turbidity and SSC in the context of environmental management in open-coastal reef environments. Exceedance results indicate strong spatial and temporal variability in water turbidity across inter/intraregional scales. The highest turbidity across 61 sites, at 50% exceedance (T50) is 15.3 NTU and at 90% exceedance (T90) 4.1 NTU. Mean/median turbidity comparisons show strong differences between the two, consistent with a strongly skewed turbidity regime. Results may contribute towards promoting refinement of water quality management protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-94
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

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