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The Marine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL)

The Marine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL)

Nationally, we currently lack a research environment within which to explore the science questions around seamless integration of the complex multi-disciplinary marine environment. This need is explicitly noted in DIISRTE[1]’s Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure[2].

A Virtual Laboratory in this space has a very high probability of success, given the significant level of underpinning investments, and clear societal need to unlock the full potential of these investments to address problems of national priority, and global significance.

The MARine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL) can provide all the tools necessary to construct a virtual environment of a region of interest. Comprised of a suite of complex models (e.g. ocean circulation, waves, water quality, and marine biogeochemistry), a network of observing sensors, and a host of value-adding tools, MARVL can underpin research to understand the dynamics, interactions, and connectivity of an estuarine/coastal region, continental shelf region, or open ocean domain. The foundation of MARVL is a modelling system of ocean circulation and wave environment. Through a web-based environment builder (WebMARVL) researchers will be able to:

  1. efficiently configure a range of different community coastal/ocean and wave models for any region, for any time period, with model specifications of their choice, through a user-friendly web application,
  2. access data sets to initialise and force a model, and
  3. discover and assemble ocean observations from IMOS[3] and AODN[4] in a format that is suitable for model evaluation or data assimilation.

MARVL is being developed in 2-stages, as an Early Activity and as a Stage 2 Activity. To showcase its potential the Early Activity will focus on an estuarine/coastal region in the Derwent Estuary of Tasmania, which has an established observing system, modelling system, and management regime. The MARVL infrastructure created and developed though this NeCTAR project will be used to explore scenarios, and demonstrate how a Virtual Laboratory can enable underpinning science in support of marine management in a specific regional context. The Stage 2 MARVL enables the infrastructure to be further developed to encompass Australia’s vast continental shelf and open ocean domains, as well as other estuarine/coastal regions. Regional case studies (in NSW, NT, QLD, SA, and WA) utilising different modelling components will provide evidence of MARVL’s flexibility . In concert, the two elements of MARVL will demonstrate the power of an integrated system working across the scales of a fully-connected global ocean.

[1] Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
[3] Integrated Marine Observing System
[4] Australian Ocean Data Network


Additional Details

Lead Organisation: 
University of Tasmania
Linked Organisations: 
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
University of New South Wales
South Australian Research and Development Institute
Australian Institute of Marine Science
University of Western Australia
Bureau of Meteorology
National Computing Infrastructure
Integrated Marine Observing Systems
Research Discipline: 
Environmental Science and Management
Fisheries Sciences
Data Format