About IOC Integrated Coastal Research

 Why a new integrative activity?

    The IOC Executive Council (41st Session, 24 June – 1 July 2008), requested the IOC Secretariat to develop a work plan and funding strategy for integrated coastal research through a dialogue between the Secretariat, GlobalNEWS, the GEOHAB SSC and interested Member States and agencies.
    Nutrient inputs (nitrogen N; and phosphorus P) to watersheds associated with agriculture, sewage and fossil fuel combustion are projected to more than double by 2050 unless technological advances and policy changes are implemented (Tilman et al. 2001; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2006). Therefore, understanding the quantitative relationships between nutrient sources throughout watersheds, nutrient transport by rivers to coastal systems, and the effects of that nutrient loading on receiving coastal ecosystems is critical to effective and integrated management of water resources and coastal zones. Without a quantitative and whole watershed perspective, and without an effective and efficient means of implementing programs that respond to current understanding of watershed-coastal ecosystem linkages, aquatic systems are likely to continue to be degraded by both nutrient over-enrichment and by changes in nutrient ratios due to human activities.
    This activity will address the need for more quantitative analysis of impacts of nutrient loading and changing nutrient stoichiometry in coastal ecosystems. It will explore relationships between nutrient inputs, coastal chlorophyll, the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia, and related effects on coastal fish and fisheries, with the ultimate goal of developing novel datasets and innovative, predictive models, which will be shared with scientists, managers, and policy-makers from regions experiencing (or likely to experience) negative impacts due to changes in coastal nutrient loading. 
    In so doing, this program will establish a necessary, but currently missing, link between several IOC of UNESCO programs and projects, including: the Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) program, ,the Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB) program, and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), as well as the activities of other organizations such as the IGBP Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) program (See section on collaborations and Figure 1).  It will also build directly on work developed through the SCOR/LOICZ work group 132 called “Land-based Nutrient Pollution and the Relationship to Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Marine Systems.”The proposed work builds on work performed by the IOC of UNESCO Global NEWS project, which has developed datasets and models of river nutrient export at the river mouth and information on land-based nutrient sources. The strengths of this Global NEWS system and the feasibility of using it to establish links between land-based nutrient loading and coastal impacts have been demonstrated in previous applications using global databases. For example, comparison between Global NEWS-predicted nutrient export and HAB occurrences suggests that high values of dissolved inorganic N river export correspond to locations of hypoxia and blooms of specific algal bloom species (Seitzinger et al., 2005, Harrison et al., 2005a and b, Dumont et al., 2005, Beusen et al., 2005, Glibert et al., 2008). This kind of qualitative comparison represents the extent to which the effects of nutrient loading in coastal marine ecosystems have been linked to coastal impacts at the global scale. To improve our capability to quantify coastal nutrient effects, considerable effort is needed.  At the most recent Global NEWS2USE meeting, a strategy was developed to move forward with this work.



Figure 1. A conceptual framework demonstrating how NEWS2USE will interact in mutually beneficial ways with multiple IOC and non IOC programs.  IOC programs with which NEWS2USE will help unify include Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB) program, the Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) program.  Non-IOC programs with which NEWS2USE will interact directly or indirectly include Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ), the SCOR/LOICZ Work Group 132, UN Environment Program Globlal Programme of Action for the Marine Environment (UNEP/GPA), the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP).  Depending on the group, interactions with other entities will include sharing personnel, sharing data, formal and informal scientific collaboration, co-hosting/co-funding workshops and open science meetings, outreach, identification of stakeholder groups, publication, peer review, dissemination of results in less formal venues. 

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