Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communication, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Glen Hyndes

Abstract

The use of satellite remote sensing for environmental management applications has seen a marked increase over the past decade. Remotely sensed data are obtainable for a variety of parameters, such as mineral exploration, species migration, and for determining sea surface temperatures (SSTs). This study examined whether satellite remote sensing is a viable option for determining SSTs in coastal waters, as traditionally this application has only been applied to open-ocean, offshore waters. SSTs in the nearshore waters of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, were determined using in situ temperature loggers and remotely sensed satellite data. Initially the accuracy of the satellite sea surface temperature extraction algorithms was examined, and subsequently spatial and temporal temperature variability around the island was examined. These findings were applied to investigate the relationship between sea surface temperatures and incidences of coral reef mortality between 1995-2001. The results showed that satellite remote sensing is a viable option for determining SSTs at least 1km offshore. It was found that these offshore data were also representative of more nearshore temperatures. Such findings may be considered of significant consequence when examining marine systems in a management perspective, where issues raised include those associated with coral reef systems, which often subsist in nearshore areas, and may be thermally influenced. This study found that coral bleaching phenomena showed little relation to periods of increased SST, suggesting that other factors besides SST, may be influencing coral mortality at Rottnest Island. The future use of satellite remote sensing to extract SST data in nearshore regions will aid in marine ecosystem management by determining possible relationships between temperature and environmental events such as coral mortality.

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