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Australian Coastal Ecosystems Facility

TERN's former Australian Coastal Ecosystems Facility (ACEF) collected and distributed key coastal datasets for use in policy and management decisions about the protection and use of Australia’s coastal assets, both marine and freshwater. It addressed data collection needs from fine scale to satellite collections of flora, fauna and biophysical properties of coastal ecosystems.

Australia’s coastal and freshwater aquatic ecosystems are highly complex and dynamic, and are home to more than 85% of the Australian population. This situation puts great pressure on the ecosystems, and means that complex management responses are needed. Although some data collection programs exist (eg monitoring in coastal and freshwater ecosystems), many of the interactions between biophysical factors, time, weather conditions, management actions and changing climate are poorly understood.

ACEF linked past and ongoing research, future data collection, and the integration of knowledge by:

  • establishing a coastal community of practice to bring together researchers, managers, industry and the community to identify key coastal datasets, improve technologies, and identify funding opportunities;
  • identifying national datasets that need to be collected, and funding strategic research that addresses key gaps in datasets;
  • providing an overview of coastal research efforts and early findings around Australia, and
  • enabling better digital access to observational data, and to analysis and visualisation methods.

To provide a national infrastructure for coastal ecosystem science, ACEF addressed key challenges such as coordinating and improving access to coastal data; providing seamless data across subtidal and terrestrial environments; improving monitoring and mapping; and tracking the movement of rare, endangered and sentinel species.

ACEF was focussed on providing answers to the following research questions:

  • How far do coastal and marine organisms move and what are the key coastal habitats they depend on?
  • How are coastal ecosystems and geomorphology, and the productivity of coastal ecosystems, changing in response to anthropogenic pressures, climate change and extreme events?
  • Can accurate coastal ocean colour products be developed to use in a national environmental information system?
  • Can we measure the relative benefits and impacts of environmental management legislation and programs on Australia’s coastal ecosystems?
  • What are the key gaps in our understanding of marine and freshwater coastal ecosystems?

ACEF leveraged existing national investments in eResearch infrastructure and worked closely with the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN), Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and with other TERN Facilities. ACEF delivered its products to the community through the AODN and TERN’s Central Data Discovery Portal to provide a distributed archive and access capability of existing coastal information. ACEF also contributed datasets for the National Plan for Environment Information (NPEI) and the second National Coastal Vulnerability Assessment.

ACEF also integrated its activities with the OzCoasts website to present an integrated, transparent view of coastal information for a variety of users.

Key data sets collected by the former TERN Coasts Facility


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