Stressor footprints and dynamics
We are defining the footprint of materials that stress marine ecosystems, such as contaminants, nutrients and sediment. We are using the latest in marine observational technology to collect data – including drifters and ocean gliders – and building better mathematical models to understand water flows within the region.
Project leader: Craig Stevens, NIWA/University of Auckland
Investigating the 'footprint' of materials that flow into the oceans
This project aims to define the ‘footprint’ of materials that stress marine ecosystems, such as contaminants, nutrients and sediment. Such footprints include where they are and how they flow through surrounding waters.
We are investigating three aspects:
- Near-field effects – around the source of the stressor material
- Regional effects – from wider coastal processes
- Far-field effects – due to factors like climate change
We are using the latest in marine technology – including drifters, ocean gliders and wire-walking moorings – provide critical observational data. Our ocean glider has made multiple passes through the focal region, providing valuable data on the vertical structure of the water column (the different layers between the surface and seabed). We have released surface drifters in Tasman and Golden Bays to track where material is transported.
We are using this information to develop better mathematical models that show currents and water flows within the focal region. These will show how stressor footprints from local marine activities affect the wider marine environment, and indicate what the critical factors are and how they interlink. This is complex because of the number and varied nature of marine activities, but extremely important because they provide critical information for stakeholders and resource managers.
Our data is also used by other Challenge projects, to improve our understanding of how ocean currents transport stressor materials and their connectivity – the way they interact with each other and the marine ecosystem. This is important for determining how much, and what type, of marine activity is viable in a particular region.
Latest news and updates
Improving marine management is critical to New Zealand's future health and wealth, but research in isolation is not enough. Excellent engagement with, and participation from, all users and sectors of society is essential.
We therefore invite comment on our draft strategy for Phase II (2019–2024). This strategy has been co-developed with Māori and stakeholders.
During Seaweek, more than 4,600 school pupils joined 6 Sustainable Seas researchers for 3 days of marine science fieldwork in Tasman Bay, as part of the LEARNZ virtual field trip Sustainable seas – essential for New Zealand’s health and wealth.