There is literally an ocean of information floating around out there about almost anything you can think of, but seldom is that information brought together in an integrated, meaningful and useful way- especially when there are multiple governmental and scientific groups involved. But a new high-technology marine information system in the waters off of South Australia is looking to condense puddles into a usable stream. The new system will record information about wind speed, ocean currents, water temperature and salinity and make it available on the Internet for anyone who needs it.
“No other country has taken this model of having a science plan developed by the scientists to advise management on what it should be doing. They’ll be extremely useful for looking at desalination plants. If you have brine outfalls at the head of the Gulf, what does that mean? It will give us an independent capacity outside of BHP and engineering consultants.” — John Middleton from Flinders University
The $9 million system is part of a $100 million national marine observation network. It includes a network of radars, underwater gliders and moorings that will bring together information that anglers, scientists, weather forecasters and firefighters have often worked independently to gather. If all goes as planned, the new system will provide a better idea of the effects of climate change and earlier warnings about natural disasters.
The system is getting creative, strapping depth and temperature detectors to endangered sea lions and installing wind radar systems on peninsulas that the weather bureau says could have signaled earlier warnings in 2005 about the brushfires.
Also, the fishing industry is hoping to find some answers about their dwindling catches:
“We’ve had a plummeting in the number of catches in our rock lobster industry over the last couple of years and this scientific research will explain why those numbers have dropped the way they have.” — South Australian Fisheries Minister Michael O’Brien
The information-sharing through the Internet echos Google Earth’s role in monitoring deforestation as part of the global UN effort.