Cross-shelf exchanges between the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef lagoon determined from a regional-scale numerical model
Schiller, A and Herzfeld, M and Brinkman, R and Rizwi, F and Andrewartha, J, Cross-shelf exchanges between the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef lagoon determined from a regional-scale numerical model, Continental Shelf Research, 109 pp. 150-163. ISSN 0278-4343 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Analyses of the variability in a 3.5-year run of a hydrodynamic model developed for simulating the circulation of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are presented. Sea-surface temperature, salinity, currents and cross-shelf transports between the GBR lagoon and the deep ocean offshore are investigated and compare well to available observations. Water mass intrusions and flushing events are critical factors in determining the health of coral reef and continental shelf ecosystems. Results from tracer release experiments provide a synoptic view of the variability of residence times within the GBR and identify critical regions of shelf-ocean exchange. One such region of significant tracer contribution to the shelf is identified in the vicinity of the Pompey Reefs in an area characterised by increased frequency of upslope transported water. Another location of enhanced flux on to the shelf exists in the region bracketing Palm Passage, where the reef matrix is very open, and provides little obstacle to cross-shelf exchange. The Palm Passage location is the origin of a northwards plume of elevated concentration. The model circulation provides a robust and useful picture of the Great Barrier Reef, rendering the model suitable for providing input to biogeochemical and sediment models to simulate, at a broad scale, the ecosystem health, water quality, transport and fate of water and waterborne material, moving through catchments and into the GBR lagoon.