Coastal Observations and Monitoring: The Scientific, Technological and Societal Challenges

EarthzineCoastal Environments 2016, Original, Themed Articles

Introducing IEEE Earthzine‰Ûªs quarterly theme on Coastal Environments.

Human activity impacts shores and coasts. Image Credit: JC le Gars/Ifremer

Human activity impacts shores and coasts. Image Credit: JC le Gars/Ifremer

Coastal environments are complex regions of the Earth at the intersection of land, oceans and atmosphere. Coastal regions are vital to transportation, global industries, food and energy production and recreation. They also are the areas where the interaction of human activity and environmental change is strongest.

These ecosystems exhibit a high level of complexity (from bacteria to fish and marine mammals) with different and interconnected processes that impact the development of these ecosystems with sometimes negative feedbacks such as eutrophication or harmful algal blooms.

 Aquaculture farm in Corsica. Image Credit: Olivier Barbaroux/Ifremer

Aquaculture farm in Corsica. Image Credit: Olivier Barbaroux/Ifremer

Earthzine is proud to present its 2016 fourth quarterly theme, Coastal Environments. It is our hope that the articles included in this theme will help to broaden our understanding of these complex biotic and abiotic processes in fields of research focusing on ecosystem protection and restoration, coastal marine habitats, climate change, and the impact of human activities including marine energy, risk monitoring, fishing and aquaculture.

We need coastal observations to provide information for the marine research community in order to understand these processes, the impacts on ecosystems and social consequences for society including overfishing, shell diseases, loss of biodiversity and coastline withdrawal, and ocean acidification.

Observation data have many applications in the domain of coastal engineering such as the design of coastal structures and the prevention of extreme events such as flooding. As a consequence, the number of marine observing systems has quickly increased around coastal seas, under the pressure of monitoring requirements and marine research.

Autonomous platforms are complementary to oceanographic vessels to explore coastal areas. Image Credit: Olivier Dugornay/Ifremer

Autonomous platforms are complementary to oceanographic vessels to explore coastal areas. Image Credit: Olivier Dugornay/Ifremer

Present demands for such observing systems include reliable, high-quality and comprehensive observations of key environmental parameters, sensors systems for continuous observations, and human observation over the long term. In-situ data collected can be combined with remote sensing and models to detect, understand and forecast the most crucial coastal processes over extensive areas within various marine environments.

Included in in this theme are articles about the Jason-3 satellite‰Ûªs role in monitoring sea level rise, an in-depth look at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the work of Canada‰Ûªs Ocean Tracking Network to collect information about grey seals on Sable Island, the monitoring of invasive species in the Great Lakes, and understanding salinity intrusion events on the United States‰Ûª eastern seaboard.

It is our intent that the articles included in this theme engage readers in understanding the necessity and fragility of coastal environments, and encourage researchers to continue in their efforts to bring awareness to the importance of these boundaries between land and water.

Patrick Farcy, Georges Petihakis and Dominique Durand are guest editors of IEEE Earthzine‰Ûªs Coastal Environments theme. Farcy is JERICO-NEXT coordinator at Ifremer. Durand is with Covartec and Petihakis is with the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research.