Darwin, the capital of Northern Territory, is Australia’s most northern city. The city has a small multicultural population with strong historic ties to our SE Asian neighbours. Darwin Harbour is a macro-tidal estuary with significant tidal flushing, a large catchment that delivers fresh water flows during the monsoon, and a range of species that show marked resilience to the physical extremes and emerging economic activity of the city and port. Noteworthy ecological assemblages include 36 mangrove species covering 27,000 ha, coral reefs, migratory shorebirds, and a number of fish species that support a large recreational fishing sector.
Darwin Harbour is large and relatively intact, with development, including large onshore LNG processing plants and growing industrial and tourism ports, primarily isolated to the eastern shore. The growing human footprint, Indigenous and conservation interests, and unique biophysical attributes and proximity to SE Asia make Darwin Harbour an interesting case for the World Harbour Project.
Our research strengths are: environmental economics, demography and regional planning, conflicting use and values relating to harbour systems, water quality, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, management of sewage outfalls, wildlife tracking studies, food web analysis, catchment to coast connectivity (and the implications of upstream water extraction), the carbon dynamics of mangroves, migratory shorebirds, sea level rise, sediment dynamics and shoreline erosion.
AIMS appreciates the economic imperatives of ports and harbours in underpinning global growth and prosperity, and in this regard, AIMS has a long history of research to support sustainable coastal developments including Port infrastructure along Australia’s tropical coastline. AIMS’s research is delivered through 4 program areas, including:
– Sustainable Coastal Ecosystems and Industries in Tropical Australia
– Sustainable Use of Marine Ecosystems in Northwestern Australia
– Healthy and Resilient Great Barrier Reef
– Data and Technology Innovation
Within this framework, our research portfolio contains activities focused on issues particularly relevant to port developments including the impacts of dredging and material disposal activities on regional water quality and consequent impacts on marine ecosystems. The World Harbour Project is therefore a natural fit with AIMS strategic research directions and scientific capabilities.
For further information on this partner harbour, please email the primary contact listed in bold below.
Tom’s broad career focus is to understand links between society (including demographic, cultural and economic dimensions) and the natural environment. His background is primarily in environmental sociology, statistics, ecology, and natural resource management socioeconomics. Through determining, and making clear for policy, important social and environmental dynamics, he hopes to contribute to the advancement of human wellbeing and the preservation and regeneration of natural resource systems. He was awarded his PhD in 2013 for his work on the social determinants of the exploitation and management of coral reef resources in Solomon Island.
Tom is currently a Research Fellow based at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, with strong links to the Arafura Timor Research Facility and Australian Institute of Marine Science. Toms work in Darwin Harbour is focused on identifying community values in and around Darwin Harbour and developing models on how the changing social, economic, and cultural landscape of Darwin is impacting Darwin Harbour. He is also interested in complex systems analysis and harbour systems provide an excellent context for this research.
Professor Karen Gibb is an environmental microbiologist with 28 years research experience. She leads the Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit (ECMU), which is a research and commercial unit at Charles Darwin University. Professor Gibb and her team investigate the source of contaminants and interpret changes in marine, estuarine and aquatic environments. ECMU’s research has supported important improvements in the methodologies and policies that underpin the sustainable management of marine, estuarine and aquatic systems across northern Australia.
Government now mandates some of the methodologies developed by ECMU for environmental monitoring. The core research strengths of the ECMU are: 1) the use of trace-metal and nutrient data combined with stable isotope data to determine the source of industrial and urban contaminants in tropical marine and terrestrial environments, and 2) molecular and environmental microbiology and genomics to track the sources of biological contaminants in tropical aquatic environments. Professor Gibb has published 120 journal articles over the last 10 years and in 2006 she was awarded, with two colleagues, the Northern Territory Research and Innovation Tropical Knowledge Award for Research.
Richard is the Research Program Leader for Sustainable Coastal Ecosystems and Industries in Tropical Australia. He is a physical oceanographer/numerical modeller with a background in environmental fluid dynamics. Richard’s research interests fall within the broad topics of coastal oceanography and physical-biological interactions on continental shelves. He has significant expertise in conducting observational and modelling based research on coastal and shelf dynamics, coupling of shelf and ocean circulation, and physical-biological interactions at regional and local scales on Australia’s tropical coasts and marginal seas. Richard’s work is characterised by applying a combination of observational and modelling approaches.