A region with some of the world's highest tides and extreme ocean conditions will help researchers at The University of Western Australia better understand the impacts of large physical disturbances and climate change on coastal ecosystems.
Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Associate Professor Ryan Lowe of the School of Earth and Environment and UWA's Oceans Institute has a five-year grant of almost $700,000 to better understand the tropical WA coastline, especially the area from the Kimberley to Ningaloo Reef.
"This project will significantly advance our understanding of coastal processes within a broad range of different tide and wave-dominated reef systems, thus improving our understanding of how communities of reef organisms respond to their physical environment," he said.
"We particularly want to improve numerical model predictions of the fine-scale ocean processes that control water motion and temperature variability across these reef environments.
"WA has a vast unexplored coastline with many parts still very poorly studied. Over the next five years, we will significantly expand our field programs targeting reefs in the northwest, particularly in the remote Kimberley region where virtually no data exists.
"Obtaining baseline data sets and improving our process-understanding is critical so we can monitor for future changes to these iconic marine environments," he said.
The research will also enable Associate Professor Lowe to build strong links with leading coastal research groups in the US, Europe and across Australia who will collaborate on the project.