Research / Project Snapshots

USIMS members are involved in many and varied research projects. Please enjoy perusing this small collection of research snapshots.


Two Tree Island KAP derived map

Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) derived map of Two Tree Island Cay, on the Great Barrier Reef. Shown are both colour imagery mosaics and a colour-coded topographic map of the cay, processed from imagery collected in October 2013. The high spatial resolution available using KAP allows for the distinction of individual coral rubble fragments, the movement of which is important in the development of the physical structural of surrounding reef and island

Repeat views of coral colonies 2010-2013

Four repeat views of coral colonies from April 2010, April 2011, April 2012 and April 2013 in 18m water depth at the Abrolhos Islands. The 2011 image (b) is an actual image collected by the Sirius AUV. The images in 2010, 2012 and 2013 (a,c,d) are all reconstructed images that are built from a collection of images collected from different perspectives and “stitched” together to produce a precisely-repeated “virtual” image that provides exactly the same perspective as the image taken in 2011

Dr Mitch Bryson:
Australian Centre for Field Robotics

(Cross Disciplinary Research)


Kite Aerial Mapping Research:

Dr. Mitch Bryson and other researchers at the University of Sydney have recently been using Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) for building high-resolution maps in coastal and marine science applications. The technique combines consumer-grade cameras and a simple data collection process with state-of-the-art post- processing techniques to produce multi-spectral, 3D photographic maps over hundreds of meters of intertidal landscape with a spatial resolution of 5mm per pixel. Conventional remote sensing tools (such as satellite and aircraft imaging) provide data at limited spatial and temporal resolutions and relatively high costs for small-scale study sites in coastal environments. Cheap tethered platforms such as kites and balloons offer an alternative means of collecting the same information in small-scale sites and with a much higher resolution.

In collaboration with Aline Martinez and Prof. Ross Coleman at the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Group, the technique has been used in conjunction with ground-based photos to build high-resolution maps of microhabitats on rocky shores in the study of the homing behaviour of the starfish Parvulastra exigua. In collaboration with Steph Duce and Dr. Jody Webster at the Geocoastal Research Group, AP is being used to build repeated high resolution topographic maps for tracking shorelines changes of a coral rubble atoll at One Tree Island and to measure the distribution of coarse coral rubble particle sizes over time. Mitch is also currently developing automatic imagery classification algorithms that use kite-based multispectral imagery to automatically classify different types of macroalgae to study spatial and temporal variations in coverage at scales not available using existing remote sensing technologies.



Marine Robotics Research:

New techniques are being developed at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics for precision repeated mapping and automatic change detection in sub-tidal marine environments using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). Dr. Mitch Bryson has developed new colour correction techniques for underwater imagery that mitigate the effects of light attenuation and scattering and allow for the quantitative comparison of the colour of marine benthic organisms in underwater photographs. Techniques are also being developed for the precision registration of high-resolution 3D benthic habitat maps collected by an AUV as part of long-term monitoring programs at various locations off Australia’s coast. In collaboration with researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, these techniques are being used to map changes in coral abundance and habitat structure after a 2011 coral bleaching event off Australia’s west coast.


First Digital Global Seafloor Geomorphic Features Map

First Digital Global Seafloor Geomorphic Features Map

Dr Elaine Baker:
UNESCO Chair in Marine Science

USIMS Director Elaine Baker is part of a team that has produced the first new global seafloor geomorphology map in fourty years. The map can be used for improved ocean managment. The global seafloor geomorphology map can be accessed here.

For more on GRID Arendal ...

Elaine is also the lead author on Chapter 23 (Marine Extractive Industries) of the United Nations The World Ocean Assessment. The WOA is due for release at the end of 2015 - she also made a film explaining the WOA. Check it out here.

Read more ...