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Mar Pollut Bull. 2012;65(4-9):249-60. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.10.031. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Water quality in the inshore Great Barrier Reef lagoon: Implications for long-term monitoring and management.

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Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville MC, QLD 4810, Australia.


Coastal and inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon receive substantial amounts of material from adjacent developed catchments, which can affect the ecological integrity of coral reefs and other inshore ecosystems. A 5-year water quality monitoring dataset provides a 'base range' of water quality conditions for the inshore GBR lagoon and illustrates the considerable temporal and spatial variability in this system. Typical at many sites were high turbidity levels and elevated chlorophyll a and phosphorus concentrations, especially close to river mouths. Water quality variability was mainly driven by seasonal processes such as river floods and sporadic wind-driven resuspension as well as by regional differences such as land use. Extreme events, such as floods, caused large and sustained increases in water quality variables. Given the highly variable climate in the GBR region, long-term monitoring of marine water quality will be essential to detect future changes due to improved catchment management.

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