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Coastal Network (GTN-C)
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An Integrated Coastal Programme

Biologically diverse, resource rich, and well-endowed with beauty, the coastal zone is a place of dense human settlement and unique ecological challenges. Most of the coastal planning efforts thus far have been led by the Coastal Observations Panel, which includes the Coastal-GOOS programmes as well as others. Yet the combination of land and water inherent to coastal ecosystems requires information beyond the oceanographic realm. For this reason, GTOS is creating a coastal initiative that will be responsible for the terrestrial component of coastal study.

Key Coastal Issues Requiring Terrestrial Observation:

1. Sand and sediment movement. The dynamics of sand and sediment, both above and below the water's surface, affect land use, shipping channels, recreational use, and nutrient transfers.

2. Chemical contamination. Coastal zones are particularly susceptible to agricultural and industrial pollutants including both growth-promoting nutrients and toxic pollutants.

3. Carbon budget and primary productivity. The coastal zone has ecosystems that are highly productive and can be peat forming, yet these systems are underrepresented in global networks.

4. Water quantity and quality. High population densities at the water's edge increase the possibility and gravity of public health problems such as diminishing potable water supply and frequent, intense flooding.

5. Wetland conservation. Sea-level controlled wetlands provide numerous ecological benefits including flood water storage, migratory waterfowl habitat, and nursery areas for marine life.

6. Biodiversity and biocomplexity. Coastal communities are subject to exploitation by over fishing, intrusions on the landscape by humans, and invasions of exotic species from shipping activities.

7. Sea-level rise from global climate change. Perhaps one of the most important and uniquely-coastal issues is the effect of sea-level rise on the landscape. Development along the coast rarely has considered how future changes of the sea level will affect hydrogeomorphology, land use and human population distributions.

Observation Strategy

Many of the observation variables and the protocols for their sampling have already been designated under the Global Hierarchical Observing Strategy (GHOST). In addition, variables unique to coastal environments and the human populations within them will be identified during the implementation phase of the initiative.

A TEMS coastal module has been developed and will soon be available online. The module allows querying by country, site, ecoregion and can be organized to yield those variables and sampling protocols that have particular importance to the coastal zone.

Moving forward

Two workshops are being planned to begin the development of the GTOS coastal initiative, the first is scheduled for late winter or early spring, 2002. They will include representatives from the GTOS and Coastal Ocean Observations Panel communities and shall begin the process of integrated coastal observation

Up to date information can be obtained from the TEMS coastal module.


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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   16 May 2002