Research Data

Water Quality, River Discharge and Remote Sense Database


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Water Quality, River Discharge and Remote Sense Database
Date Record Created
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Date Coverage
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Geospatial Location
  • The data in the database cover the whole extension of the GRB with extreme coordinates as indicated below: NORTH LATITUDE: -10.5 SOUTH LATITUDE: -27.0 WEST LONGITUDE: 142.3 EAST LONGITUDE: 154 HORIZONTAL DATUM: WGS84
  1. Type: brief

    This database contains three main tables: river discharge data, satellite imagery inventory, and water quality data from near-shore sites in North Queensland.

  2. Type: full

    Daily mean, maximum and minimum river discharge (Megaliters/day) from 36 rivers, plus their quality control code (as in the DERM web page – Department of the Environment and Resource Management, Qld Government, dated from 1915 (Barron River at Kuranda) up to current date. Rivers currently in the database are: Barron River at Kuranda, Calliope River at Castlehope, Mossman River at Mossman, Waterpark Creek at Byfield, Fitzroy River at The Gap, Kolan River at Springfield, Sandy Creek at Homebush, North Johnstone River at Tung Oil, Endeavour River at Flaggy, Daintree River at Bairds, O'Connell River at Caping Siding, Haughton River at Powerline, Murray River at Upper Murray, Mulgrave River at Peets Bridge, Tully River at Euramo, Baffle Creek at Mimdale, Black River at Bruce Highway, Carmila Creek At Carmila, Ross River at Ross River Dam Headwater, South Johnstone River at Upstream Central Mill, Burdekin River at Clare, Pioneer River at Mirani Weir Tailwater, Russell River at Bucklands, Mary River at Home Park, Barron River at Myola, Herbert River at Ingham, Don River at Reeves, Burrum River at Lenthalls Dam Release, Annan River at Beesbike, Proserpine River at Proserpine, Boyne River at Milton, Burnett River at Figtree Creek, Rocky Dam Ck, O'Connell River at Stafford's Crossing, Normanby River at Kalpower Crossing, and Pioneer River at Dumbleton Weir T/W. Near-shore water quality data has been measured from direct water mainly sampled at the surface, since 1991 as part of the Water Quality Monitoring Plan for the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Sometimes stratified samples using Niskin bottle has been also carried out. Water samples are analyzed for: TSS (mg/l), chl-a (µg/l), phaeo-a (µg/l), cdom (440), Si (µM), DIP (µM), DOP (µM), TDP (µM), PP (µM), TP (µM), NO2 (µM), NO3 (µM), NOX (µM), NH4 (µM), DIN (µM), DON (µM), TDN (µM), PN (µM), TN (µM), POC (µM), DOC (µM), and the pesticides Ametryn, Atrazine, Bromacil, Desethyl-A, Desisoprop, Diuron, Fluometuro, Hexazinone, Imidaclopr, Metolachlo, Prometryn, Simazine, Tebuthiuro, and Terbutryn. Water temperature, salinity, light and dissolved oxygen are also determined using a Sea-Bird profiler. Each sample is identified in the water quality table by its name, latitude, longitude, sampling time and date. All sample analyses are carried out by the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) laboratory, except for pesticides, which are processed at University of Queensland. The Sea-Bird profiles are treated before inclusion into the data base, and outliers are masked. The database has an inventory of ~3000 MODIS imagery, including Aqua and Terra sensors. Because the main focus of our team's research is to understand the influence of river plumes on the Great Barrier Reef, a more comprehensive temporal coverage covers the period form January to April from 2003 to 2011 (mainly MODIS Aqua imagery). The processed images were done up to level-2 and the main products extracted are CDOM as adg_443, nLw_667, bbq_555_qaa (both used as a proxy for turbidity) and chlorophyll as chl_gsm. True color images are also available for most of the images that have been processed.

  3. Type: note

    Data Limitations In relation to the water quality data, not all the parameters have been sampled at a regular basis. Most of the MODIS images have not been processed yet, so they are as Level-0 data. River discharge obtained form DERM may not have been quality controlled (process that may take 3-4 months after data collection, Even though most of the Level-0 images cover the whole extension of the Great Barrier Reef, not all of them were processed for the whole area. The extraction of the Level-2 products is an ongoing process and changes on the selection of the current extracted products may occur.

  4. Type: note

    Data Sources River discharge data have been obtained from DERM (Department of the Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Government, Satellite imagery have been obtained from NASA (MODIS Aqua and Terra sensors,, and water quality data have been sampled in North Queensland waters by ACTFR team and other collaborators. Water sample analyses have been carried out mainly at the ACTFR laboratory, for most of the parameters, except for pesticides, which have been analyzed at University of Queensland

  5. Type: note

    About the Data The data consists of three (3) excel spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel 97-2004 workbook) and a CSV text file. Water quality anachronisms used in the water quality table (WQdata) are as follow: TSS = Total suspended solid, CDOM = Colored dissolved organic matter, TN = Total Nitrogen, TDN = Total Filterable Nitrogen, NH4 = Ammonia, NO2 = Nitrite, NO3 = Nitrate, NOX = NOX, DIN = dissolved inorganic nitrogen, DON = dissolved organic nitrogen, PN = Particulate nitrogen, TP = Total Phosphorus, TDP = Total Filterable phosphorus, DIP = dissolved inorganic phosphorus, FRP = Filterable Reactive phosphorus, PP = Particulate phosphorus, DOP = dissolved organic phosphorus, and Urea = Urea-N. In the satellite inventory table (in preparation), the image name uses a SeaWiFS-like convention, which indicates sensor (A for Aqua/MODIS, T for Terra/MODIS), sampling rate (LAC for full 1-km sampling), and time of the first scan in the file, Ayyyydddhhmmss, where ddd stand for the day in Julian Day format. River discharge table (river_disch) is organized by the River code, as defined by DERM, and its translation to the river name is presented in the table ‘river_info’ table. The profiles data is organized on the SeaBirdData table. All tables have the same basic structure in which date, time, latitude and longitude are used as unique identifiers combined. An exception occurs at the river_disch table in which the date and the river code as used as unique identifiers combined, and latitude, longitude and site name are presented in the river_info table.

  6. Type: note

    The input of data into the database is an ongoing process. The earliest river discharge data dates from the 2nd of August of 1915 for Barron River at Kuranda. Satellite imagery starts on 1 January 2003, and water quality data starts on 23 January 1991.

  7. Type: note

    River discharge data is manually downloaded form the DERM web page (, at a regular basis (2-3 months, and more often during the wet season), and summary tables and statistics produced based on this data are performed using R scripts. NASA MODIS Aqua/Terra imagery is ordered form NASA web page and Level-0 data is processed using SeaDAS 6.2. The use of Level-2 products is still an ongoing process, and it has not been totally defined, the main products that have been extracted so far are adg_443, nLw_667, bbq_555_qaa and chl_gsm.

  8. Type: note

    How to cite this data: M.Devlin, 2011, James Cook University, Flood plume monitoring in the Great Barrier Reef.

Related Publications
  1. Devlin, M.J. and Schaffelk, B (editors). (2012). Catchment-to-Reef continuum: Case studies from the Great Barrier Reef. A special issue – Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012.  65:77-80
  2. Report 50: Waterhouse, J. (2010) Thresholds of major pollutants with regard to impacts on instream and marine ecosystems
  3. Report 51: Waterhouse, J. et al. (2010) Optimising water quality and impact monitoring, evaluation and reporting programs
  4. Report 52: Devlin, M. and Waterhouse, J. et al. (2010) Improved understanding of biophysical and socio-economic connections between catchment and reef ecosystems: Wet and Dry Tropics case studies
  5. Report 56: Waterhouse, J. and Brodie, J. E. (2011) Identification of priority pollutants and priority areas in the Great Barrier Reef catchments
  6. Report 60: Johnson, J. and Martin, K. (2011) Water quality and climate change: Managing for resilience
  7. Report 61: Johnson, J. and Martin, K. (2011) Managing for resilience of the Great Barrier Reef: Socio-economic influences
  8. Report 63: Waterhouse, J. and Devlin, M. (2011) Managing water quality on the Great Barrier Reef: An overview of MTSRF research outputs, 2006-2010
  9. Report 64: Devlin, M. and Lewis, S. (2011) Advancing our understanding of the source, transport and impacts of pesticides on the Great Barrier Reef and in associated ecosystems: A review of MTSRF Research Outputs, 2006-2010
  10. Brodie, J.E., Devlin, M.J., Haynes, D. & Waterhouse, J. (2011). Assessment of the eutrophication status of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon (Australia). Biogeochemistry. DOI 10.1007/s10533-010-9542-2.
  11. Schroeder, T., Devlin, M., Brando, V.E., Dekker, A.G., Brodie, J., Clementson, L., McKinna, L., (2012). Inter-annual variability of wet season freshwater plume extent in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon from satellite ocean colour observations. Marine Pollution Bulletin.
  12. Devlin M, McKinna LW, Alvarez-Romero JG, Petus C, Abott B, Harkness P and Brodie J (2012) Mapping the pollutants in surface riverine flood plume waters in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Mar Pollut Bull.65:224-235
  13. Devlin, M. and Brodie, J. (2005) Terrestrial discharge into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon: Nutrient behaviour in coastal waters.. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 51(1-4): 9-22
  14. Devlin, M.J. (2011). Flooding in NE Australia: how ongoing monitoring of flood plumes helps in managing the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Ecosystems and Management. Vol 4, No. 4
  15. Devlin, Michelle, Wenger, Amelia, Da Silva, Eduardo, Alvarez Romero, Jorge G., Waterhouse, Jane, and McKenzie, Len (2012) Extreme weather conditions in the Great Barrier Reef: drivers of change? ISBN 978-0-9808572-5-2. Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium In: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, 9-13 July 2012, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  16. Devlin, M., Harkness, P., McKinna, L. and Waterhouse, J. (2010). Mapping of risk and exposure of Great Barrier Reef ecosystems to anthropogenic water quality. ACTFR report number 10/12. 2010. James Cook University
  17. Devlin, M.J. and Schaffelke, B. (2009). Spatial extent of riverine flood plumes and exposure of marine ecosystems in the Tully coastal region, Great Barrier Reef. Marine and Freshwater Research, 60:1109-1122.
Related Websites
    Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, James Cook University
    Reef Rescue Marine Monitoring Program - Assessment of terrestrial run-off entering the Great Barrier Reef (ACTRF-JCU), eAtlas
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Technical metadata
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  1. Managed by: Dr Michelle Devlin , Aust Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research
Primary Contact
Dr Eduardo Da Silva,
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Fields of Research
  1. 050206 - Environmental Monitoring (050206) (050206)
Socio-Economic Objective
  1. 960503 - Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments (960503) (960503)
  1. Water Quality
  2. North Queensland
  3. river discharge
  4. near-shore
  5. Great Barrier Reef
  6. flood plumes
  7. satellite imagery
Research Activity
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Research Themes
Tropical Ecosystems, Conservation and Climate Change
Industries and Economies in the Tropics
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License - Other
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Access Rights/Conditions
Open Access . If the data is not available via the provided link, please contact an associated party (preferrably the Manager as specified) for access.
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Data Location
Online Locations
  1. Water Quality, River Discharge and Remote Sense Data (Data File, Public)
Stored At
Dr Eduardo da Silva, Research Officer, ACTFR, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, 4811 Australia, PHONE: +61 7 4781 4675, FAX: +61 7 4781 5589
Devlin, Michelle. (2012). Water Quality, River Discharge and Remote Sense Database. James Cook University. (dataset).