The e-Atlas: Risk, Resilience and Response
Project Leader: Katharina Fabricius, AIMS
Why do we need an e-Atlas?
Managing our tropical lands and seas to enhance their resilience, particularly in the face of growing threats posed by climate change, declining water quality and unsustainable use, is a significant scientific, policy and management challenge. Effective collation, analysis, synthesis and communication of credible bio-physical and socio-economic information to policy makers, natural resource managers, scientists and the general public will be one of the keys to successfully meeting this challenge. The Australian Institute of Marine Science with funding from the MTSRF, Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has developed the e-Atlas and is working with Dr David Souter to coordinate a substantial collaborative effort to populate the e-Atlas and increase its usefulness and useability (http://eatlas.org.au).
What will you find in the e-Atlas?
The e-Atlas currently holds a growing number of text pages that deliver syntheses of the latest scientific thinking on a wide range of issues facing the marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments of North Queensland. These syntheses have been derived from the latest scientific literature, much of which is founded on research conducted within the MTSRF program, and can be downloaded from the e-Atlas, along with images, meta-data, data and KML files for use in Google Earth. The e-Atlas now holds meta-data records for 38 datasets from 11 different national, state and local institutions or agencies. Twenty-seven of these datasets, many of which have been collected over decades and span large geographic areas (e.g. the entire Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Areas), have been incorporated into the e-Atlas mapping system to produce more than 600 maps, all of which can be viewed by anyone online.
The e-Atlas uses a unique and sophisticated interactive mapping system that enables the simultaneous comparison of up to three maps and multiple variables side-by-side. This unique ability enables the e-Atlas to effectively illustrate the numerous characteristics of North Queensland’s ecosystems, particularly patterns and hotspots of biodiversity and threats, facilitating the identification and improvement of understanding of the major risk and resilience factors influencing the MTSRF region, and their ecological, social and economic impacts; and enhances capacity to evaluate and implement effective policy and management responses to ensure the long-term sustainability of North Queensland’s natural assets.
How does the e-Atlas share information?
The e-Atlas is based entirely on open-source software and integrates several technologies to fulfill the e-Atlas’ central objective of sharing and communicating information. For example, the e-Atlas uses internationally recognized standards (WMS feeds) to deliver content to commonly used GIS systems, particularly within federal and state government departments and agencies. In addition, the e-Atlas is linked to a number of external databases enabling the latest information to be communicated from a distributed system of data stores. The e-Atlas also supports an online metadata store that adheres to Australian best practices for spatial data management, ‘wiki’ capacity to facilitate external contributions of meta-data, data, reports, and images, and finally, downloadable KML versions of many of the maps so that they can be incorporated into your own Google Earth collection.
Demonstrable examples of adoption
Along with the MTSRF website, the e-Atlas is already the major knowledge and meta-data capture and delivery tool for the MTSRF program. Since March 2010, the e-Atlas has attracted 1700 unique visitors (based on IP), more than 7800 page views, and has received more than 410,000 map image requests. The e-Atlas has made a substantial contribution to the first GBRMPA Outlook Report and is currently being trialed internally within GBRMPA as a ‘no-cost’ GIS platform that provides all GBRMPA staff with the capacity to visualize and interrogate spatial information describing the GBR. Planning is also underway to incorporate the e-Atlas into the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country - Reef Rescue initiative as the major reporting tool for monitoring programs, enabling the evaluation of progress towards improvements in reef condition.
Report prepared by the Australian Institute of Marine Science which presents an analysis of three major data sets from broadscale water quality sampling programs on the Great Barrier Reef. The report also explores the use of these data sets as potential indicators of water quality.