A new research partnership between The University of Western Australia and K+S Salt Australia will investigate the impact of cyclones and other weather events on water quality and the marine ecosystem in the north-west of Western Australia.
The research team from UWA and Curtin University will measure water quality and map marine habitats across Exmouth Gulf and the Urala Creek coastline over an 18-month period.
The water quality will be analysed using a combination of laboratory and in-situ analysis, to measure salinity, temperature, pH levels, turbidity, chlorophyll-a and dissolved organic matter.
Project leader PhD student Paula Cartwright, from UWA’s Oceans Graduate School, said the research was expected to fill the current knowledge gap on how fluctuating water quality affected coastal habitats.
“By conducting long-term studies of water quality we can assess, and therefore create a model to predict the impact of seasonal changes and other weather events on marine habitat formation, including coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves,” Ms Cartwright said.
“For example, increased sediment due to a storm surge can reduce light in water, stunting coral and sea grass growth.
“Declining marine water quality is recognised as one of the most significant threats to the long-term health and resilience of nearshore marine habitats.”
K+S Salt Australia Managing Director Gerrit Gödecke said he was pleased to support leading research taking place in Western Australia.
“As well as forming part of K+S Salt Australia’s environmental analysis for the Ashburton Salt project development, we look forward to results contributing to greater scientific knowledge of the region for the benefit of the community,” Mr Gödecke said.
UWA’s Dr Mick O’Leary and Curtin University’s Dr Nicola Browne will oversee the research team, which will comprise staff and postgraduate students from UWA and Curtin. The research project will begin this month and runs till 1 February 2020.
Image: UWA researcher Paula Cartwright with K+S Salt Australia’s Gerrit Gödecke.
David Stacey (UWA Media Manager) 08 6488 3229/ 0432 637 716