ReefSense Pty Ltd

Australian Business Number (ABN): 50 120 429 585

ReefSense Pty Ltd was set up in 2006 by Dr William Skirving to facilitate research with his many international and Australian collaborators. ReefSense is deliberately based in Townsville, which places it in easy reach of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), James Cook University (JCU) and the University of Queensland (UQ). Together, they represent a concentration of coral reef knowledge, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

For most of its existence, ReefSense has had three staff, who collectively work on the many projects ReefSense is involved in. While the funding sources have varied through time, they have been dominated by sources from within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

ReefSense expertise is diverse, but is mostly concentrated on remote sensing and modelling of the marine environment.

ReefSense has extensive experience in:

  • the derivation of physical marine parameters with the use of satellites

  • satellite oceanography

  • the use of environmental parameters for the determination of various coral reef health metrics

  • derivation of historic and near-real time regional and global marine environmental satellite products

  • use of climate models for predicting marine environmental parameters into the future

  • and many more


ReefSense has had continuous contracts with the NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) program for the past 17 years. As a result, most interactions with other agencies by ReefSense staff are as representatives of NOAA, however ReefSense has also been involved with research outside of this NOAA relationship. ReefSense has a close relationship with the University of Queensland as evidenced by two separate contracts with the University of Queensland as part of two major Australian Research Council (ARC) Industry Linkage Grants. In both cases ReefSense was instrumental in having NOAA, with funding from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, serve as the major industry partner. “New tools for managing ecosystem responses to climate change on the Southern Great Barrier Reef” was conducted between July 2007 and May 2010, while “Next generation satellite tools for understanding change in coral reef ecosystems due to multiple global and local stressors” was conducted between June 2012 and September 2017.  Each of these projects provided ReefSense with additional resources, including an additional staff member.


More recently, ReefSense partnered with the University of Exeter, NOAA and the University of Queensland to win a National Environment Research Council (NERC) grant entitled “Global analysis of temperature regimes to stratify the management of coral reefs for climate change”. ReefSense will soon be partnering with the University of Reading to apply for European Space Agency (ESA) funding for a project aimed at recovering and reprocessing as much old environmental satellite data as possible. The initial aim of this project is to provide a 1.25 km resolution sea surface temperature (SST) product, much like the Climate Change Initiative SST dataset (

Currently, ReefSense has three full time staff and one part time staff member. Two staff are funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program as part of the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS) at the University of Maryland; the remaining staff are funded via other sources.


ReefSense has strong ongoing collaborative links with: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US; US Geological Survey, US; Deltares, Netherlands; the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia; the UK Met Office, UK; the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Australia; the University of Queensland, Australia; James Cook University, Australia; Penn State University, US; University of Reading, UK; University of British Columbia, Canada; University of the Philippines, Philippines; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico; University of Western Australia, Australia; University of Tasmania, Australia; University of Hawaii, US; Newcastle University, UK.