AIMS small logo AIMS eReefs

Temperature, wind, salinity and current (GBR1)

Time step:

    Note: The near-real time GBR1 and GBR4 models (including hydro, river tracer and BGC) are currently paused at December 17th 2023 due to infrastructure damage from the recent flooding events around the Daintree River region (see here). These floods have damaged the real-time river temperature and flow sensors across surrounding catchments, and Queensland government is working to recover and restore these as quickly as possible. We will provide further updates when available.

    This page shows the temperature, wind, salinity and ocean currents on the Great Barrier Reef based on the 1km eReefs Hydrodynamic model.

    Quick links: Source data     Recent data     Navigation

    The combination of temperature, wind, salinity and current shows key hydrodynamic parameters of the Great Barrier Reef.


    The temperature is primarily driven by the seasons and mixing of the water by wind and ocean currents. If the temperature rises too high during summer months then it can cause corals to bleach. This can be see during the summer months of 2016 and 2017.


    Wind is a key driver of surface water currents, mixing and waves. In winter months the wind typically blows north west. These winds are known as the trade winds as they are a predictable seasonal pattern. In summer months the winds typically drop (except for cyclones) reducing the cooling and mixing of the water, resulting in significant surface temperatures rises during the day, creating a "heart-beat" pattern in the temperature in the video (see the Temperature panel in the March 2017 video as an example). The wind also drives the direction of the flood plumes. The north west blowing trade winds typically push any flood plumes back onto the coast and northwards. When the wind occasionally blows offshore then the plumes are pushed further out.

    The path of cyclones can be seen in the wind variable. This shows the asymmetrical shape of the cyclone as it approaches the coast, due to the friction of the land slowing the winds on the southern side of the cyclone.


    Salinity is a measure of the salitiness of the water. Fresh water outflow from the rivers caused by flooding and rain events lowers the salinity (appearing as red in the maps). The low salinity is a good approximation for where flood plume waters might be. During flood plumes if the wind is blowing offshore then it will push the plume off the coast more toward the reefs. 2011 was a particularly wet year during the summer months causing extensive plumes to drift over reefal areas. (See Feb 2011 Burdekin region salinity panel for runoff from major flooding).

    Note: In flood plumes nutrient and sediment runoff lead to the formation of green plume water which has small suspended particles coated in algae that travel much further then is predicted by looking at just the lowering of the salinity.


    The ocean currents are driven by the wind, tides, and temperature and salinity gradients. In the visualisations the strength of the current is represented by colour and the arrows represent the direction. In the hourly data (as shown in the videos) it is possible to see the tidal currents causing the direction of the current to flip back and forth. This tidal current increases the mixing of the water causing sediment in inshore areas to be stirred up. In the daily and monthly visualisations most of the fluctuations of the tidal currents are averaged out, allowing some of the large scale current flow patterns to be seen.

    Many marine organisms (such as Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and corals) are dispersed by ocean currents planktonic larvae that float from reef to reef.

    Interesting events


    From 28 Dec 2014 - 29 Dec 2014 and from 1 Dec - 10 Dec 2021, the forcing data for the GBR1 eReefs model was incorrect due to a process failure while extracting the relevant ACCESS data. This resulted in static tides and winds during this period, leading to incorrect model outputs during Dec 2014 and 2021, with some carry over error into Jan 2022. This forcing error led to a decrease in water mixing resulting in the temperature building up several degrees hotter than it should and to the flood plumes from the Fitzroy and Burnett moving in the wrong direction.

    CSIRO are correcting this problem by re-running the model from Dec 2021 for several months to replace this section of the data. This warning will be updated when this change has been made.