About the theme


It is recognised that the Kimberley region is a tidally driven system, however there has been insufficient oceanographic and fine resolution bathymetry information to understand and predict the physical processes that support and drive the ecology and biodiversity for the Kimberley region.

Research was needed to develop our understanding of the ocean-atmosphere system along with continental shelf and nearshore circulation patterns and processes. This information could then be integrated with an improved understanding of the sources of energy that flow through the system from both pelagic and terrestrial sources to better understand the processes that support coastal biodiversity.


  • To quantify the physical oceanographic dynamics in the coastal Kimberley region by undertaking both a field observational program and development of a field-validated three-dimensional hydrodynamic model with domain extending from the coast to the shelf waters.
  • To examine and better understand the oceanography of the Kimberley including tidal movement and water mixing between the inner, mid and outer continental shelf regions.
  • To better understand the Kimberley’s macrotidal reefs, the relationships between the large tidal forcing, reef geomorphology and solar heating.


  • Temperature and salinity loggers moored near the sea floor bottom and through the water column at three locations representing inner, mid and outer shelf over an annual cycle
  • Two research surveys on the RV Solander (wet and dry season) collecting oceanographic information on temperature, salinity, density, turbidity and water movement.
  • Development of a Regional Ocean Modelling Systems (ROMS) hydrodynamic model validated by the field data.


  • Increased understanding of oceanographic properties during wet and dry seasons that can be used to better understand some of the ecological processes that support marine biodiversity in the Kimberley.
  • Development of a 3D Kimberley-wide model of oceanographic processes.
  • Confirming that tidal movement is the dominant oceanographic influence on the coastal Kimberley waters.

Project News

Kimberley coastal system: links from the land to the deep sea


Branson PM, Ghisalberti M, Ivey GN (2016) Time resolved 3D3C measurements of shallow-water island wakes. Proceedings 20th Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference, Perth, 5-8 December 2016.

Jones NL, Patten NL, Krikke DL, Lowe RJ, Waite AM, Ivey GN (2014) Biophysical characteristics of a morphologically-complex macrotidal tropical coastal system during a dry season Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.07.01

Lowe RJ, Falter JL (2015) Oceanic Forcing of Coral Reefs  Annual Review of Marine Science 2015. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015834

Lowe RJ, Leon AS, Symonds G, Falter JL, Gruber R (2015) The intertidal hydraulics of tide-dominated reef platformsJournal of Geophysical Research DOI: 10.1002/2015JC010701

Zhou WM, Espinosa-Gayosso, Jones, N.L. and M.R. Hipsey (2016) Numerical study of the wet-season hydrodynamics of a macrotidally forced bay with complex topography: Collier Bay, Kimberley, Western Australia. Proceedings 20th Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference, Perth, 5-8 December 2016.




Physical oceanographic dynamics in the Kimberley (2017 WAMSI Research Conference)

The flow of energy through the Kimberley coastal system (Parks and Wildlife Lunch and Learn seminar)

Physical oceanographic dynamics in theKimberley (2015 WAMSI Research Conference)


Program: Kimberley Marine Research

Location: Buccaneer Archipelago, Lalang-garram Horizontal Falls Marine Park and Collier Bay

Theme Leader: Greg Ivey, UWA


Final Report