Damien Burrows

The Australian summer has arrived and with it a host of potential impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. Besides planning for holidays and spending time with family and friends, those involved with the Great Barrier Reef are also keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts, the risk of El Nino conditions, cyclones and the sea surface temperatures. It is now part of our standard summer routine. We pray for a stable, uneventful summer, even though we know and accept the unpredictability of the tropics is one of its inherent properties that we, as students of nature, embrace.

Against this backdrop of constantly wondering what each summer might bring, it would be easy to slip into despair. However, despite their reputation for always declaring impending doom, I find that most scientists are actually inherently optimistic about the future – why else would they put so much effort and so much of their heart into solution-oriented research. At the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub, maintaining a positive, solution-oriented focus is mandatory. It is inherent in our approach to believe that we are making a difference, that we are improving environmental outcomes. From reducing catchment run-off to improving monitoring methods to understanding the traits of corals that survived mass bleaching events, our work is more important than ever in identifying ways to limit impacts, improve resilience and develop restoration approaches for the Great Barrier Reef and associated ecosystems.

Our belief in our science drives us forward. Importantly, our stakeholders also agree that our work is making a difference and this support motivates us even further. Despite the negative predictions (largely expounded in the media more often that by those of us working on the ground), we know that we are rising to the challenge and with this belief, and the support of our partners and stakeholders, we look forward to the summer and the new year, when we can continue our exciting program of work.


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