The basic concept of a Global Coastal Ocean was defined about a decade ago in five Volumes of The Sea (Vols. 10 to 14, Harvard Univ. Press). The revised definition is:
The coastal ocean is that interface area where land, hydrology, ocean and atmosphere interact in a multiplicity of space and time scales and give rise to the greatest ocean productivity and the strongest interaction between fresh waters, including glacier waters, and saltwaters.
It is believed that, after thirty years of development in ocean predictions and operational oceanography, we are capable of understanding and predicting this complex zone where most of the human population live and the impacts of climate change will be amplified.
Most sustainable development goals (SDGs) consider the socioeconomic and environmental problems connected within this crucial area. All these goals require increased knowledge and advanced predictions of the global coastal ocean in order to provide solutions for the management and sustainable exploitation of the resources.
The Programme will coordinate scientific advancements and technological innovations following three pillars:
The Programme outcomes and outputs will be:
The 17 SDGs are the primary drivers for a UN Decade Programme on “Predicting the Global Coastal Ocean”.
The contribution that the Programme could offer to the 17 SDG targets is discussed in the Table below.
|SDG||Contribution from this Programme|
|1||Sustainable blue economy using a science-based approach that considers coastal predictions for management of resources and environmental protection.|
|2||Fishery and mariculture rely on the accuracy of the “predicted” ocean|
|3||Coastal oceans are essential components of human’s well-being and coastal ocean predictions help to preserve this natural resource.|
|4||Coastal ocean literacy is a pre-requisite for responsible citizenship at public, private and corporate levels.|
|5||Coastal ocean solutions will consider diversity issues at all levels of the programme development.|
|6||Predict salinization of drinkable waters, understand and predict salt intrusions in rivers, develop integrated water management plans in the coastal areas.|
|7||Improve the use of renewable energy from the coastal zone winds, currents (including slope currents) and waves using the predicted ocean products|
|8||Promote safe working conditions for the coastal ocean communities using ocean prediction products|
|9||Innovative coastal tourism, mariculture, transport, gas/oil extraction, safe transport and advanced port management using coastal prediction products|
|10||Promote the inclusive participation of the coastal communities in the design and implementation of solutions, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status|
|11||Reliable and extended coastal inundation predictions, hazard mapping of coastal pollution from different sources eliminating dumping in the coastal zone|
|12||Connect the “predicted coastal ocean” to scientific and technological capacity to move toward more sustainable seafood production and consumption in the global coastal ocean.|
|13||Promote downscaling of climate change scenarios in the coastal zone, designing new coupled ocean-atmosphere-land-hydrology at the local scales and define impacts of different scenarios, including coastal sea level changes and extreme events at the coasts|
|14||Protect and restore coastal habitats, develop nature-based solutions for coastal erosion using coastal prediction products. Develop early warning systems for multi-hazards on the coasts.|
|15||Improve the understanding of aquifer water flows and the management of the adverse effects of coastal area saltwater intrusions.|
|16||Analyze and implement plans for coastal transboundary water problems, enhancing the collaboration of countries in setting the observing and modelling system that will enable water resources and their part of the global coastal ocean to be peacefully managed.|
|17||Mobilize resources for the co-design between scientists and coastal stakeholders on the science, solutions/services and capacity in the global coastal ocean|
The role of the coasts in the large-scale ocean circulation has been recognized since the beginning of modern oceanography and meteorology. Coasts are the waveguide for tidal waves and Kelvin waves, and play a key role in the dissipation of ocean energy. They are sources of energy for baroclinic Rossby waves crossing the ocean basins
and accumulating energy in western boundary currents. Coasts shape specific upwelling/downwelling processes, are regions of freshwater influence from rivers and glaciers. Coasts interact strongly with slope currents, and lastly they are the sites where marine biogeochemistry and physics connect to produce the largest atmospheric CO2 sinks.
Despite these key issues, the “generic” understanding of the global coastal ocean is still lagging behind other topics in oceanography, probably because of the fragmented scientific approach related to the varying coastal specificities. However, Robinson and Brink (2010) attempted to define the concept of the “global coastal ocean”,
highlighting that a common scientific approach to studying the different coastal areas is possible and potentially very important. This is the key idea for this Programme.
In order to achieve the goal of understanding the different but similar “global coastal ocean” areas several scientific questions need to be investigated, including:
Some of these topics will be matched to specific solutions and services to be developed by Projects within the Programme or will become Projects themselves.
The Programme is aimed at furthering the understanding of the global coastal ocean and at demonstrating solutions/services in several different types of coastal areas of the world ocean. The original subdivision of the global coastal ocean into four categories is shown below, from Robinson and Brink (2010).
Several Decade Projects should be created on the basis of scientific and implementation challenges in the contrasting coastal areas.
Projects should be formulated to devise solutions and services on the basis of the “predicted ocean products”, including:
The Global Coastal Ocean, 2010. The Sea, Harvard University Press, Vol. 13-14A and B, A.R.Robinson and K.Brink editors.