Oceans

Recording old oceans centre tag.

Latest news

New information about landslides that occur on the seafloor off New Zealand’s east coast will help scientists better understand why and where they happen, and the types of threats they pose.
New Zealand’s changing ocean environment has prompted the call to develop a system that will keep closer tabs on information from scientific monitoring buoys so the data they produce can be shared as widely as possible.
A chance discovery off the Gisborne coast five years ago is prompting a NIWA scientist to find out more about the link between a field of methane seeps bubbling out of the sea floor and submarine landslides.

The on-going rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) that is fuelling climate change is also driving significant changes in the waters off our coasts.

Our work

NIWA is conducting a five–year study to map changes in the distribution of plankton species in surface waters between New Zealand and the Ross Sea.
Ocean acidification conditions around the New Zealand coast are being measured to establish baseline conditions and to quantify future change.
Our oceans are expected to become more acidic as carbon dioxide concentrations rise. This will likely have impacts on the plankton, which play a major role in ocean ecosystems and processes.
Where and when do white sharks occur in New Zealand waters, and how can fisheries bycatch be reduced?

Latest videos

Ocean Acidification
This video has been produced to highlight ocean acidification as a potential issue affecting the NZ shellfish aquaculture industry
Echo, Echo: Scanning the Seafloor on R.V. Tangaroa

NIWA ocean geologist Dr Joshu Mountjoy explains how the R.V. Tangaroa's multibeam system is used for bathymetric (seabed) mapping, and some of the benefits which come out of this mapping.

Seabed Frontier: A Brief History of Bathymetry

NIWA marine geologist John Mitchell gives a brief history of bathymetric (seabed) charting, and how it's been carried out over the last few hundred years. (01:18) 

Big Fish, Calm Sea - White Shark Tagging off Stewart Island

Tagging White Sharks off Stewart Island, NZ Scientists from DOC, NIWA, and the University of Auckland are building a unique picture of New Zealand's great white shark population.

Predicting ocean nutrient levels

Predicting ocean nutrient levels

Repeated measurements of temperature and nitrate concentrations were made on transects sailed by Tangaroa and Munida in subtropical (S2 ) and subantarctic (S4) waters and the Subtropical Front (S3) southeast of New Zealand.

Nitrate availability is one of the main factors controlling primary productivity in the world’s oceans. We are using NIWA datasets to better understand variability in concentrations of this important nutrient.

Backscatter workshop a success

Backscatter workshop a success

The workshop had a strong practical component. Participants from a range of agencies had the chance to use the latest advanced backscatter processing software (SonarScope) developed at IFREMER.

It was an intensive day. On 9 November, about 35 people attended a workshop on processing and use of sonar backscatter for advanced seafloor mapping at NIWA’s Greta Point campus.

Monitoring the sea level

Monitoring the sea level

Sea-level monitoring station at Charleston (west coast).

NIWA coordinates a network of 20 open coast sea-level recorders around New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, and Antarctica (Scott Base). The recorders collect accurate measurements of sea level and tides for monitoring coastal hazards such as storm surge and tsunami, and studying longer-term coastal processes, including El Niño effects and sea-level rise. Data are uploaded nightly and some sites are displayed at www.niwascience.co.nz/services/sealevels.

Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment: issues & solutions

Effects of land-based activities on the coastal environment: issues & solutions

NIWA will host a two-day workshop next year through the National Centre for Water Resources and National Centre for Coasts & Oceans to highlight issues around managing the effects of land use and the transfer of these effects to the coastal environment.
When: 4–5 May 2006
Where: Te Papa, Wellington
Further details will be announced shortly.

Myriad applications for isotope analysis

Myriad applications for isotope analysis

NIWA’s New Wave micromill is used to prepare microsamples for chemical and isotopic analysis. Complex structures can be sampled with submicron stage resolution and positional accuracy. Pictured clockwise top to bottom are: speleothem (being milled), bamboo coral sections, a galaxid otolith, a pair of pilchard otoliths.

NIWA is the leading institute in New Zealand doing high resolution analysis of stable isotopes in carbonates to identify environmental change over timescales of tens to thousands of years.

When paua seek a home

When paua seek a home

This map shows a snapshot of modelled larval distribution. Blue areas have the least larvae; red areas have the most. The arrows show the direction and speed of currents. An eddy has formed in the lee of the headland at the entrance to Tolaga Bay and larvae are concentrating near the centre of the eddy.

Shellfish larvae are transported along the coast by marine currents, but how far do the larvae spread and how effectively do they settle?

Hear world experts on seafloor mapping

Hear world experts on seafloor mapping

Xavier Lurton and Jean-Marie Augustin from IFREMER, the French Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea, are visiting NIWA under the Royal Society ISAT programme. They will present a one-day workshop on the processing and use of multibeam backscatter imagery for seafloor substrate mapping.
When: Wednesday, 9 November
Where: NIWA, Greta Point, Wellington
Attendance, including lunch, is free. Registrations are required by 1 November. www.niwascience.co.nz/ncco/courses

Modelling aquaculture effects in the Firth of Thames

Modelling aquaculture effects in the Firth of Thames
A new simulation model of nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics developed by NIWA is being used in the Firth of Thames.

Time & depth averaged simulated concentrations of dinoflagellates, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, diatoms, and phytoflagellates in the Firth of Thames, May 2003. The scale is the log of the concentration in milligrams per cubic metre. This work was funded by the Auckland Regional Council, Environment Waikato, and the Western Firth Marine Farming Consortium.

Where are the offshore minerals?

Where are the offshore minerals?

Photo courtesy of Diamond Offshore Drilling.

Currently over 100 000 km2 of seafloor around New Zealand are permitted for hydrocarbon exploration. NIWA has been undertaking seafloor surveys for new gas pipelines to shore, and site surveys for oil-rig drilling operations. In recent months we have undertaken multibeam and high-resolution seismic surveys of the Kupe and Pohokura production sites and possible pipeline routes, and a site survey of the Tui development area for engineering evaluations.

Building better offshore mussel farms

Building better offshore mussel farms

Measuring mussel float motion by radar. The radar is equivalent to 30 police radars monitoring different points on the water surface.

Mussel farms near the shore face increasing space constraints, but building further offshore is not a matter of simply ‘beefing up’ an inshore mussel farm.
Existing large farms in areas like Golden Bay and the Firth of Thames are relatively sheltered.

Marine Environment Classification launched

Marine Environment Classification launched

The leader of the National Centre for Coasts & Oceans, Dr Ian Wright, talks with the Minister, and with Dr Barry Carbon, Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment, at the launch.

‘Not only is the MEC a great tool; it is a strategic tool.’ Hon Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment.

The Minister for the Environment, Hon Marian Hobbs, formally launched New Zealand’s first Marine Environment Classification (MEC) last month.
Hailing the MEC as a world-class environmental management tool, the Minister said that be

Sounds surveyed

Sounds surveyed

The wreck of the Soviet cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov which sank at Port Gore, Marlborough Sounds, on 16 February 1986. This image was created by NIWA using the same high-frequency side-scan sonar technology that we use for mapping seafloor habitats for FRIAs, marine conservation, and port developments.

How green's the bay?

How green's the bay?

Mean chlorophyll concentrations in the Bay of Plenty for October 1997–2004.

NIWA is applying a cutting-edge method of estimating surface chlorophyll concentrations around the coast to help Environment Bay of Plenty with work on aquaculture management areas.
Chlorophyll is produced by microscopic plants (phytoplankton), and its concentration is related to the amount of phytoplankton in the water. These organisms are at the base of the marine food chain, so it is important to estimate how much phytoplankton there is.

Vessels rise to Argo challenge

Vessels rise to Argo challenge

It’s a float’s life: the 10-day cycle of data collection.

NIWA research vessels, criss-crossing the Pacific, are making a major contribution to Argo, the international ocean observation programme.
Argo aims to maintain a global network of high-tech floats measuring currents, temperature, and salinity in the upper ocean. ‘Filling the remote South Pacific was always going to be a big challenge,’ says Professor Dean Roemmich of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego, USA).
That’s where NIWA came in.

Wave rider buoy 'very valuable'

Wave rider buoy 'very valuable'

Since 1995, NIWA’s wave rider buoy off Baring Head, near the entrance to Wellington Harbour, has been providing the harbourmaster, Toll NZ (formerly Tranz Rail), and the MetService with accurate measurements of the waves off Wellington’s south coast.
Captain Mike Pryce is the Wellington regional harbourmaster.

Offshore exploration

Offshore exploration

This shows the modelled mean currents off the east coast of the North Island. The colours show the speed of the currents. The arrows show both direction and speed (the longer the arrow, the faster the current).
The main feature is the East Cape Current which flows down the east coast and turns off eastward near 42° S (south of the Wairarapa coast). Here it joins current from Cook Strait giving the strongest mean currents of over 30 centimetres per second (shown in red).

Habitat mapping highlight

Habitat mapping highlight

The demonstration on Tangaroa included imaging this wreck of a minesweeper which sank in Wellington Harbour in 1942 after colliding with an inter-island ferry.

Ian Wright (below right), national centre leader, and Kevin Mackay, marine data manager, demonstrating seabed mapping on RV Tangaroa.

Mapping life on the Napier seafloor

It sounds easy, but equipment and vessel time as well as unpredictable weather make it time consuming and expensive to map the seafloor using cameras alone.

At NIWA, we have developed a quicker, more cost effective method. First we acoustically map the seafloor using technology such as sidescan or multibeam sonar. We use the acoustic images, and our ecological experience, to guide where we deploy video cameras. Once we have the video footage, we use statistical techniques and ecological information on the importance of various species to classify the observations into habitat types.

Monitoring Auckland's intertidal zones

NIWA has been designing and analysing long-term monitoring programmes for the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) to check whether the ecology of some of the region’s harbours is changing.
It can be difficult to measure the impact of human-induced changes on the animals which live in the sandflats, mudflats, rock, beaches, and other terrain between the high and low tide marks. The creatures are generally small, hidden, and tend to cluster together in small patches.

NIWA produces a range of high-quality informative posters for schools, industry groups, and the general public. 

Charts of coastal bathymetry, sediment, and other information are available for purchase.

The flotilla of icebergs currently off the South Island were probably once part of a much larger iceberg from the Ronne Ice Shelf, on the other side of Antarctica from New Zealand.

Pages

 

All staff working on this subject

placeholder image
Principal Scientist - Marine Geology
placeholder image
Marine Biogeochemistry Technician
Marine Mammal Acoustician
placeholder image
Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
placeholder image
Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
placeholder image
Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) Numerical Modeller
placeholder image
Marine Sedimentologist
General Manager - Operations
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
placeholder image
Marine Invertebrate Systematist
placeholder image
Marine Physics Modeller
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
Principal Scientist - Marine Physics
placeholder image
Physical Oceanographer
placeholder image
Marine Biologist (Biosecurity)
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
placeholder image
Freshwater Fish Ecologist
placeholder image
Principal Technician - Marine Geology
Algal Ecologist
Subscribe to RSS - Oceans