COCKBURN SOUND UNDER THE RADAR
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.