About AIMS eReefs

The eReefs research project is a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Bureau of Meteorology, and Queensland Government. It aims to develop a platform that will provide a picture of what is currently happening on the reef and what will likely happen in the future. This website provides visualisations and aggregations of the eReefs hydrodynamic and biogeochemical models allowing easy access to the current and historic environmental condition on the Great Barrier Reef.

About the eReefs models

The eReefs hydrodynamic model predicts the movement of water, as well as key environmental conditions such as water temperature and salinity, which is useful to seeing freshwater run off from rivers. This model allows us to better understand the path of cyclones and how they mix the water, the location of potentially damaging heat waves that can cause coral bleaching, the ocean currents that disperse larve of corals and Crown-of-Thorns starfish, and fresh water plumes from flooded rivers that can damage inshore reefs.

The eReefs BioGeoChemical (BGC) and sediment model uses the results of the hydrodynamic model to track the movement and concentration of nutrients and sediments. It models the effects of land run off into the marine space and the nutrient recycling processes associated with plankton, seagrass and coral.

Both the hydrodynamic and BGC models are run in near real time with results typically being within a few days to a week of the current date. This is achieved by the models being forced at its boundaries by the Bureau of Meteorology's weather models (ACCESS meteorology: solar radiation, rain, wind), OceanMAPS global model and flow from 25 rivers.

The models are run at a 4 km and 1 km average grid resolution. The 1 km model is nested with the 4 km model, where the boundary of the 1 km model is forced by the 4 km model results. Both the 4 km and 1 km models provide a hindcast of historic conditions, with the 4 km model starting in September 2010 and the 1 km starting in December 2014. The 1 km model does not go back as far as the 4 km model due to the high computation expense of running this model.

What does this website show?

This site presents visualisations of key variables from both the eReefs Hydrodynamic and BGC models. The raw model outputs are available publicly via the National Computing Infrastructure (NCI) THREDDS data service and are described in more detail on the Access to raw model output page on the CSIRO eReefs site. The problem is that these models generate huge quantities of data (~ 10 TB for hind cast and 2 TB new data per year) made up of over 50 million individual maps (100's variables x hourly/daily time slices x many depths x multiple years) making it difficult to easy comprehend when viewed as one time slice at a time. This website aims to solve this problem by:

  • Generating videos that map multiple related variables, allowing the connections between key processes to be easily seen,
  • Generating aggregations over time (daily, months, seasonal, annual, all-time) to show typical spatial patterns of variables without the noise of short term processes,
  • Generating exposures maps to identify regions where organisms are being exposed to harsh conditions that might adversely affect their health.

The products on this website are updated in near real time from the NCI data services.

How are the map products on this website generated?

Two new tools were developed to process and visualise the eReefs model data. These were a tool for processing the model outputs to calculate time aggregates and exposures (Ncaggregate), and a tool for automatically generating maps and videos from the data (Ncanimate). Along with these tools a host of smaller coordinating tools were developed. These were to automate the mirroring of data, to coordinate the processing workflow and for presenting of the thousands of products on the website.

Overview of the AIMS eReefs Data Portal Server

How do I access the data used in the visualisations?

All the dataset used to create the visualisations on this site are made available in NetCDF format from our AIMS eAtlas THREDDS server. The data is split into two main sections, the Mirrored datasets and the Derived datasets.

Mirrored datasets

The Mirrored datasets correspond to the data that was mirrored from the NCI server. This data is the basis for all the derived products on the site. This data is in the original format generated by the eReefs model outputs. As such the data uses a curvilinear grid system and so can not be loaded by most GIS applications. These data files can however be viewed using CSIRO's DIVE desktop application.

Derived datasets

These correspond to all the aggregate products generated by this project. This corresponds to daily, monthly, annual and all time aggregates. These files have been regridded to a regular grid to allow them to be loaded into a standard GIS application such as ArcMap. You can do this by following the Reading netCDF as a raster layer guide.