Long term monitoring of photosystem II herbicides--correlation with remotely sensed freshwater extent to monitor changes in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
The world's largest coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), continues to be degraded from land-based pollution. Information about the source of pollutants is critical for catchment management to improve GBR water quality. We report here on an 11-year source to sea study of pollutant delivery in runoff from the Fitzroy River Basin (FRB), the largest GBR catchment. An innovative technique that relates land use to pollutant generation is presented. Study results indicate that maximum pollutant concentrations at basin and sub-catchment scales are closely related to the percentage area of croplands receiving heavy rain. However, grazing lands contribute the majority of the long-term average annual load of most common pollutants. Findings suggest improved land management targets, rather than water quality targets should be implemented to reduce GBR pollution. This study provides a substantial contribution to the knowledge base for the targeted management of pollution 'hot-spots' to improve GBR water quality.