Sunday, 29 April 2012



Welcome to our Blog about MARVLIS. "What is MARVLIS?" I hear you ask, to answer this question let me explain the background on how MARVLIS was conceptualised:

The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), a component of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), hosted by the University of Tasmania (UTAS), was invited by the National eResearch Collaborative Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) program to establish an ‘early activity’ Virtual Laboratory. The proposal put forward by UTAS is for a Marine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL) bringing together IMOS with the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans ocean modelling group to develop a relocatable framework for synthesising observations and models in any marine domain.

The intention of MARVL is to provide a generic tool for significantly reducing the time needed to initiate scientific studies or develop management scenarios, establishing a national infrastructure for integration of modelling and observational data. A case study demonstrator of MARVL is to be the Derwent Estuary region of South East Tasmania because of the ongoing existing modelling and observation program being conducted there.

The Derwent Estuary, including the d’Entrecasteaux Channel, in SE Tasmania is a temperate estuary with strong ocean interaction and has direct application to management of multiple uses, including fisheries and aquaculture. A number of environmental issues affect the estuary:

·       Heavy metal contamination of water, sediments and seafood
·       Loss of estuarine habitat and species
·       Introduced marine pests and weeds
·       Altered river flow regimes and blocked fish migration routes
·       Elevated levels of nutrients and organic matter, and low dissolved oxygen levels.

Understanding these interactions and potential conflicts has been the subject of a joint UTAS / CSIRO / State Government project called INFORMD which has attempted to integrate field studies, the TASMAN sensor network ( and a coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical modelling system to explore the fundamental processes impacting on the circulation and water quality of the estuary.

The aspiration is that datasets generated by these activities will be used to inform management options and provide risk assessments (delivered through tools such as CONNIE,

This project arose though discussions with ANDS on the prospects of constructing software (an Information System - MARVLIS) to demonstrate how scientific outputs (observations and models produced by a system like MARVL) can be enhanced to provide value-added information to support the management and risk assessment of the activities in this regional water body.

Aims and Objectives

The aims of this project (MARVLIS) are to enhance MARVL by the creation of additional software to:

a)     Develop value-added data products to enhance existing marine management practices, and

b)     Provide at least 2 demonstrations of these enhancements.

The specific objectives of MARVLIS are to:

(i)     Generate a data collection for the Derwent publishable in the ANDS Data Commons (Note this is not a data mining exercise, the data are routinely used in environmental assessments, this is more about automatic collation and aggregation utilising MARVL infrastructure).

(ii)   Investigate two scenarios which are likely to arise in the management of aquaculture and environmental assessment. These scenarios consider aspects pertinent to both the aquaculture operations and environmental assessment, namely 1) public health, and 2) ecosystem health.

(iii)  Create a software library, compatible with MARVL, containing modules to generate data products of value to the scenarios.

Outputs and Outcomes

Project outputs

(i)     A library of software tools compatible with MARVL

(ii)   Software tools to generate value-added products applicable to the selected scenarios

(iii)  Products, derived from underlying scientific data, supporting the scenarios. For public health this will include the impacts of ‘events’ on water quality which may influence the temporary closure of beaches or shellfish farms; for ecosystem health this will include ‘what-if’ management scenarios examining the impact of moving or expanding the scale of fish farms; the impacts and optimisation of coastal zone development, and evaluating products for increasing the cost-effectiveness of Environmental Impact Assessment.

Project outcomes

(i)    Enhancement of MARVL to deliver regional management support tools

(ii)   New tools to aid public health and ecosystem health assessments

(iii)  Improved coordination between aquaculture management, environmental assessment and scientific studies in the Derwent Estuary region

(iv)  Improved working practices for aquaculture operation and environmental assessment in the Derwent Estuary region, with implications nation-wide.