UWA Oceans Institute

Safeguarding our Resources

Our experts

There is a growing reliance on our world’s oceans for food, water, resources and transport and it is more important than ever for us to balance socio-economic needs with the conservation of these resources.

The UWA Oceans Institute is researching solutions for governments, industries, non-government organisations and the community to make decisions that protect and sustain these ocean resources for current and future generations, with a strong focus on offshore energy.

Our aim is to understand how we can achieve this unique balance.

Our researchers are exploring the safeguarding of our ocean resources across the following areas:

Engineering offshore energy

Engineering offshore energy

Securing long-term energy is a major challenge facing present and future generations, and the ocean can play a significant role in meeting this challenge. Within Australia alone, for example, significant hydrocarbon resources lie untouched in remote and/or deep locations at the bottom of the ocean, or are unharnessed as wave, tidal and wind renewables. This equates to trillions of dollars in gas reserves and the world’s largest reserves of offshore renewable energy (equal to almost 10 times the present national electricity demand). These resources may only be realised through the development of innovative, multi-disciplinary offshore engineering solutions.

Research Expertise

The Ocean Institute hosts a large group of researchers focused on offshore engineering, ranging from meteorology and oceanography dynamics, ocean forecasting, to offshore geotechnical engineering, offshore fixed and floating hydrodynamics, fluid-structure interaction, and asset management. A large fraction of this multidisciplinary group is unified through the Offshore Facilities and Ocean Systems critical mass group within the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.

Problems we solve

Members of the Oceans Institute are presently involved in developing novel engineering solutions for offshore oil and gas, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG), offshore and coastal renewable energy, offshore mining, marine aquaculture and ocean management. A key theme across the research work is to understand the interaction between regional ocean dynamics and forcing, through to structural and system design, operation, maintenance, and, finally, decommissioning and closure of offshore energy generation facilities and infrastructure.

Stabilising oil and gas platforms

Stabilising oil and gas platforms

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Extreme events and hazard mitigation

Extreme events and hazard mitigation

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Oceanographic forecasting

Oceanographic forecasting

The improved prediction of present and future ocean conditions is critically needed to support a wide range of ocean applications ranging from forecasting ocean climate variability, to the risks and impacts of contaminant spills, ocean hazards, maritime safety, through to quantifying connectivity within marine ecosystems. Analogous to how the atmospheric weather is forecasted, we rely on a combination of numerical models and field observations of ocean dynamics to predict ocean currents, waves, sea level changes and temperature variability found in coastal, shelf and deep ocean regions.

Research Expertise

Oceans Institute scientists conduct research on the modelling of ocean processes, over spatial scales ranging from the nearshore zone (e.g. beaches, estuaries and coral reefs) to larger-scale studies of shelf systems and ocean basins.  Examples of this research include studies of the drivers of ocean climate variability (including the dynamics of marine heat waves), forecasting oceanic and coastal responses to tropical cyclones and storm surges, understanding the dynamics of large-scale shelf boundary currents such as the Leeuwin Current, and improving predictions of how the ocean currents transport key material along the coast (e.g. contaminants, larvae, and nutrients).

Problems we solve

Expertise in oceanographic forecasting within the Oceans Institute is applied to solve a wide range of multidisciplinary problems, including forecasting how extreme ocean conditions (e.g. currents and waves) threaten coastal and offshore infrastructure, quantifying the risks and potential impacts of contaminant spills on marine ecosystems, enhancing maritime safety (e.g. to shipping and port operations), predicting the scale of impacts of dredging on coastal environments, forecasting ocean climate change and future marine heat waves, and predicting coastal erosion.