COCK­BURN SOUND UN­DER THE RADAR

Cockburn Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

SENSITIVE radar and soft­ware orig­i­nally writ­ten to pro­tect oil rigs from ice­bergs is be­ing used to un­ravel mys­ter­ies about ocean cur­rents and sand move­ments in Cock­burn Sound.

Oceanog­ra­phers say data col­lected by the radar will help with sea­grass re­growth in the Sound and com­pre­hend­ing sand move­ments af­fect­ing the ero­sion hot spot Port Beach.

SENSITIVE radar and soft­ware cre­ated to pro­tect oil rigs from ice­bergs is be­ing used to un­ravel mys­ter­ies about ocean cur­rents and sand move­ments in Cock­burn Sound.

“We need to know what happens be­low the sur­face and how it af­fects the sand’s move­ment so we can help sea­grass re­growth in Cock­burn Sound, and the soft­ware works out what is hap­pen­ing up to 30m be­low,” oceanog­ra­phy and marine sci­ence lec­turer Jen­nifer Ver­duin said.

The Murdoch Univer­sity team be­gan their re­search at the for­mer head­quar­ters of Fre­man­tle Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue last month.

Since the late 1990s, the univer­sity has been ex­am­in­ing dif­fer­ent ways of plant­ing sea­grass sprigs into the seabed to re­store much of the shal­low off­shore habi­tat lost since set­tle­ment.

Dr Ver­duin said the data col­lected by the radar, di­rected in a 270de­gree arc up to 1.8km off­shore, may also be use­ful for un­der­stand­ing pollution plumes from any dredg­ing needed for a po­ten­tial new con­tainer port at Kwinana, and to un­der­stand how sand flows are be­ing af­fected at Port and Cottes­loe beaches.

The univer­sity’s com­mer­ciallyavai­l­able $250,000 radar has been linked to the wave soft­ware pack­age do­nated to the study by its Cana­dian maker. Dr Ver­duin said it was sensitive enough to iden­tify small oil and sewage spills and po­ten­tially in­di­cate if lo­ca­tions off the Perth coast had re­cur­ring prob­lems with the pollution.

Fre­man­tle Vol­un­teer Sea Res­cue pres­i­dent Mark Zu­vela said a wave radar would be a valu­able res­cue tool.

The six-month study may con­tinue if fund­ing and a per­ma­nent site at least 15m high can be found close to the sea.

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