IMOS National Reference Station Network – a platform for collaboration, integration and partnerships

Tim Moltmann1, Ana Lara-lopez1,  Lev Bodrossy2, Lesley  Clementson2, Claire Davies2, Ming Feng3, David Hughes2, Tim Ingleton6, John Middleton4, Craig Steinberg5, Iain Suthers7

1Integrated Marine Observing System, Hobart, Australia, 2Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Hobart, Australia, 3Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Perth, Australia, 4South Australian Research and Development Institute, Henley Beach, Australia, 5Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia, 6NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney, Australia, 7University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


The Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is an Australian Government national research infrastructure program that undertakes systematic and sustained observing of the marine environment. All observations are turned into data to be discovered, accessed, used, and reused by national and international research communities and other users of marine data. IMOS is integrated across disciplines and across spatio-temporal scales, supporting open-ocean and climate science as well as continental shelf and marine coastal science. IMOS has approached the challenge of observing Australia’s marine estate by establishing ‘backbone’ facilities. Backbone facilities link the broadscale to the regional, and provide national capability that goes beyond a ‘sum of regions’ approach. The largest of these is the National Reference Stations (NRS) network. It is the most complex and most multi-institutional facility in IMOS, with four different institutions; CSIRO, AIMS, SIMS and SARDI, having day-to-day responsibilities for this network. The NRS includes both continuous moored-sensor and monthly/quasi-monthly vessel-based sampling, measuring a wide range of physical, biogeochemical and biological variables. The long-term time-series, which includes 3 stations with >60-70 years of data, have been critical for defining key components of climate change and associated ecosystem responses. The rich environmental context provided by the NRS has also attracted the collaboration of new research communities, resulting in new initiatives like marine microbes and ichthyoplankton monitoring. Data has also been used in hydrodynamic models linking the continental shelf to the coast.

This talk is an overview of successful collaboration, integration and partnership of IMOS NRS network and its science impact.


Tim Moltmann is the Director of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), based at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. In this role he is responsible for planning and implementation of a large national collaborative research infrastructure program, which is deploying a wide range of observing equipment in the oceans around Australia and making all of the data openly available to the marine and climate science community and other stakeholders.

Tim is a highly experienced Australian research leader. He has been Director of IMOS for nine years, and before that worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
(CSIRO) for over a decade, rising to be Deputy Chief of the Marine & Atmospheric Research Division based in Hobart. He has a particular interest in research infrastructure, and has played a lead role in major national projects relating to large research vessels, observing systems, and national marine information infrastructure.

Tim’s national roles include being Chair of Australia’s National Marine Science Committee, Co-Chair of Australia’s Forum for Operational Oceanography, and a member of national committees on
Marine Biodiversity research, Climate Change research, Environmental Information, and integrated monitoring and reporting for the Great Barrier Reef. He has worked in primary industries and
fisheries at State Government level, and has extensive background experience in private industry in Australia and the UK.

His international roles include being Chair of the Global Ocean Observing System Regional Alliance Forum, and an ex officio member of the Global Ocean Observing System Steering Committee. He has contributed as an invited expert to planning and review of marine research infrastructure programs in Canada, the USA, Brazil and Singapore.