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Dr Scarla Weeks

Satellite oceanography specialist, The University of Queensland

My particular expertise lies in ecosystem-scale specific applications of satellite data to the oceanographic environment. Research interests include the link between climate change, oceanography and the biological response, with a focus on regional to local processes. Research into the role of mesoscale oceanographic variability in mass coral bleaching patterns forms an integral component to the development of an “Early warning and assessment system for thermal stress on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR)”. Research applications include the impact of mesocale oceanography (physical / biological) and climate change on high trophic levels and fisheries management in east Australian waters and comparative western boundary currents.

Current collaborative projects of my group include: (i) The vulnerability of seabirds on the GBR to climate change, (ii) Movement and migration patterns of manta rays of the GBR in relation to oceanographic conditions and food availability, (iii) Implications of climate change for the oceanography of the GBR ecosystem, (iv) Biological and oceanographic influences on whale shark abundance and feeding ecology, (v) with CSIRO colleagues, Assessing the adequacy of current fisheries management under changing climate, (vi) Movements of planktivorous marine megafauna and links to ocean dynamics and productivity. The latter, based in southern Mozambique, allows comparison of the physical and biological oceanographic patterns impacting high trophic levels in the western boundary Mozambique-Agulhas and East Australia Current systems.

Also a member of the Centre for Spatial Environmental Research, I work in close collaboration with the NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group in developing the application of satellite ocean colour and thermal data to coral reef and coastal ecosystems. A current focus is the development of products to quantify the attenuation of photosynthetically available radiation though the water column. Our ARC NASA Linkage project to develop Improved Tools for Comprehensive Monitoring of Water Clarity and Light Availability in Coral Reef Ecosystems is a collaboration between the University of Queensland, NASA, the Stennis Space Flight Centre, Curtin University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.