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Reef restoration and protection combine at Southern Cross University


Jessica Nelson
8 October 2019

Southern Cross University has added to its formidable line-up of coral reef researchers with the appointment of Dr Daniel Harrison to the University’s National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour.

While Dr Harrison is of no relation to world-leading coral researcher Professor Peter Harrison who is based at Southern Cross University Lismore campus, the two plan to collaborate to increase the scale and effectiveness of reef protection and restoration.

Professor Peter Harrison is leading global reef restoration projects in large scale capturing of coral eggs and sperm, growing millions of coral larvae in enclosures and releasing coral babies onto dead reefs. Meanwhile, Dr Daniel Harrison is pioneering new ‘cloud’ technology aimed at protecting coral reefs from being severely bleached.

As a member of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, Dr Daniel Harrison and colleagues sifted through 150 ideas submitted from experts and the public to help protect the reef. After a full feasibility study, the ‘shading’ idea is one of a number of innovative ideas that is being developed as a next-stage investment case.

“In theory cloud brightening works through spraying nano droplets of sea water into the atmosphere above coral reefs to ‘brighten’ clouds and increase their reflectivity,” said Dr Harrison who joins Southern Cross from the University of Sydney.

“We are continuing the development of a spraying machine in association with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and other partners and will trial the technology in Sydney later this year before applying to trial it on a coral reef system in 2020.”

Professor Peter Harrison said Dr Harrison’s appointment was a great fit for Southern Cross University as Daniel “has expertise in biological and physical oceanography, and engineering”.

“Dr Harrison is continuing to plan the cloud brightening concept and related projects with leading experts in atmospheric physics and cloud science to share resources. Daniel’s research has great potential to become an important part of future planning for the protection of reefs from bleaching events,” said Professor Peter Harrison.