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GEOSS Support for Decision-Making in the Coastal Zone: Managing and Mitigating the Impacts of Human Activities and Natural Hazards in the Coastal Zone

A series of (regional) GEO Workshops organized by the GEO Coastal Zone Community of Practice

Introduction: Global, regional and local trends in natural processes and human demands on coastal ecosystems jeopardize the ability of these ecosystems to support commerce, living resources, recreation and habitation. In this context, improved, integrated and sustained coastal observing capabilities are required to better support user information needs. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) provides a valuable framework and mechanism to help implement these capabilities, and under the auspices of GEO, a Coastal Zone Community of Practice (CZCP) was initiated in 2006. The CZCP builds on the heritage of the former IGOS Coastal Theme (more background ...), which provided a strategy for integrated observations across the land-sea interface, and aims to enable broader participation, improved linkage to users, coordinated implementation, and enhanced societal benefits.

The CZCP is a user-driven community of stakeholders, the purpose of which is to develop a strategy, in the framework of GEO for engaging user groups across the land-sea interface in the development of those elements of the GOOS and GTOS that are required to provide and integrate data on terrestrial, freshwater, marine and atmospheric systems that converge in the coastal zone. Its specific objectives are to:

  1. Engage data providers and users in the specification of requirements for in situ and remote observations
  2. Evaluate current and projected observation capabilities against these requirements, and identify gaps, redundancies and activities that need to be strengthened;
  3. Promote the development of workshops and “proof of concept” pilot projects;
  4. Promote development or strengthening of networks of institutions globally, regionally, and across Communities of Practice (CPs) that contribute to and benefit from GEOSS to achieve the mutual goals of GOOS and GTOS.
Introduction

Rationale: Increases in coastal urban population and land-use practices in coastal catchments and floodplains have led to rapid and accelerating changes in sediment supplies and increases in nutrient, pollutant and pathogen loadings to coastal waters. These pose serious risks to human health and the capacity of ecosystems to support products and services critical to the survival and well being of human populations, in developed and developing nations alike. Risks are increasing and are likely to be compounded by global climate change. High and immediate priorities for GEOSS are improved forecasts of sea-level rise and associated increases in coastal inundation that may be exacerbated by increases in the frequency of extreme weather. Detecting, predicting, assessing and managing the interplay of coastal urbanization and global climate change are critical to the sustainability of healthy ecosystem and the products and services they provide to human populations. Approaches for carrying out these tasks will necessary differ from country to country in view of the multiplicity of tools, policies, measures, and standards employed for monitoring, assessing and managing risk within the coastal zone. Nonetheless, there remains an urgent need to promote integrated, multidisciplinary and multisectoral coastal and ocean management at the regional level in ways that leverage, support, and enhance the capacity of individual coastal States in developing effective coastal zone policies, robust response mechanisms and risk mitigation strategies.

Rationale of the Workshop Series

Goals and Objectives: Under the auspices of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO), and with a primary focus on the needs of developing nations, the GEO CZCP is conducting this series of regional workshops to provide an end-to-end forum for data providers and users to identify observing system requirements (from observations to modeling) and decision-making tools needed to manage and mitigate the impacts of coastal inundation, storm surge and human activities on coastal communities and ecosystems. As a step toward achieving these goals, this series of workshops aims to:

  • Foster communication between land-oriented and sea-oriented communities of scientists, environmental managers, policy makers and other users. Historically, observation efforts within the marine aquatic and terrestrial spheres have been largely separate. A major goal of the CZCP is to aid in establishing an integration of these efforts. A key intent of each regional workshop is to bring together scientists and practitioners from across the region to build synergy and linkages to further strengthen existing programs and initiate new partnerships to enhance coastal zone research capacity and coastal resource management.
  • Specify data and information requirements of the Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) community, including the first responder and mitigation communities, the regulatory community, longer-term planners, policy makers, researchers and educators. ICAM user interests represent a spectrum of scales from local to global with information needs from near-real time to multi-decadal.
  • Discuss and prioritize data and information gaps. Identify the challenges to filling these gaps, as well as the emerging decision-making approaches and model-based solutions.
  • Facilitate linkage of space-based observations, and land and ocean in-situ measurements and models with sustained programs that will provide data and information needed to:
    • Assess changes in susceptibility (risk and resilience) to coastal inundation and storm surge in high risk regions;
    • Assess changes in susceptibility (risk and resilience) to coastal erosion; and
    • Assess and forecast impacts on human health risks, the state of coastal ecosystems and the living resources they support.
  • Initiate planning for Coastal Data Assimilation System (CODAS) pilot projects and corresponding Integrated Coastal Decision Support Systems (ICoDSS) for data acquisition, analysis, modeling and integration to support improved decision-making across the land-sea interface in two or more target regions. A key goal of this planning process will be to strengthen the institutional capacities of developing countries and to promote international joint observation and research, through improved surface-based monitoring and increased use of satellite data, and the creation and dissemination of technical and scientific knowledge.
  • Promote the end-to-end goals of coastal observing systems by fostering improved linkages between data providers and end-users, and facilitating the transition from data to products to information to knowledge.
Objectives of the Workshop Series

Outcome: Potential activities and products resulting from the Workshops include:

  • Initiation of the COastal Data Assimilation System pilot project (CODAS) and corresponding Integrated Coastal Decision Support System (ICoDSS) are two products.
  • Promotion of a better usage of the database of monitoring sites and networks for the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), i.e. the Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) for coastal observing systems through registration of programs and sites.
  • Promotion of formal partnerships and linkages among the various programs represented at the Workshops.
  • Promote development of land-sea data assimilation schemes, building towards an integrated CODAS proto-type with operational nowcasting & forecasting (short & long term) capabilities to support users.
  • Support development of standardized user interface tools (e.g, GIS) and integrated decision support systems for coastal management (e.g., ICoDSS) that can be used for short-term decisions as well as long-term planning
Outputs of the Workshop Series

Heritage: This series of workshops complements and builds upon other GEO activities, including the GEO Inland and Nearshore Coastal Water Quality Remote Sensing Workshop held March 2007 in Geneva and other workshops that focus on improving the skill of forecasts of coastal inundation and storm surge; here we focus on predicting, managing and mitigating their impacts through more effective coastal zone management.

Heritage for the Workshop Series

IGOS Costal Zone Theme and Transition into GEO: The initiative for a CZCP emerged from the activities of the Coastal Theme of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership (IGOS-P). The Coastal Theme goal was to develop and implement a strategy for integrated observations across the land-sea interface that would provide data and information needed to make informed decisions on issues related to the propagation of change and variability as required for use, study, or management of coastal ecosystems or components thereof. The Coastal Theme built on and integrates the extensive activities of the coastal components of Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). Per consensus decisions made at the May 2007 IGOS-P-14 Meeting in Paris, the IGOS Coastal Theme was transitioned into GEO and its coastal activities will be developed further as part of the rapidly developing CZCP, in coordination with the Panel for Integrated Coastal Observations (PICO), a technical sub-panel of the GOOS Scientific Steering Committee (GSSC).

IGOS Background for the CZCP and the Workshop Series

Previous Workshops: The CZCP employs a regional approach to engage users and potential users through GOOS Regional Alliances (GRAs) and regional activities of GTOS. One of the ways that the CZCP is implementing this approach is by organizing a series of regional workshops in partnership with GOOS, GTOS, regional organizations, and GEO member countries. The overall title of the series is “GEOSS Support for Decision-Making in the Coastal Zone: Managing and Mitigating the Impacts of Human Activities and Natural Hazards in the Coastal Zone”. This series of workshops complements and builds upon other GEO activities, including the GEO Inland and Nearshore Coastal Water Quality Remote Sensing Workshop held March 2007 in Geneva and other workshops that focus on improving the skill of forecasts of coastal inundation and storm surge. Within this series, the CZCP focus is on managing and mitigating the impacts of inundation, storm surges, climate change and urbanization through more effective coastal zone management.

  • The first regional Workshop was held at the National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece, on 9-13 June 2008, and this workshop focused on the Mediterranean. Read more...

    As one output of this workshop, a sub-regional workshop for the Southern Mediterranean is under planning, with the likely venue being Cairo, Egypt. Read more ...)

  • The second regional Workshop was originally planned to take place in August 2009 in Accra, Ghana. Logistical problems required postponing this workshop. In late 2009, UNESCO IOC and IHP offered to integrate the program developed for the Accra Workshop into a Workshop jointly organized by IOC and IHP in Cotonou, Benin. In order to accommodate the CZCP program, this workshop had two sub-themes, with the first one focusing on coastal zone issues. The CZCP retained some influence on the program of this sub-theme. Read more ...

  • The third regional Workshop took place on March 9-11, 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This workshop focused on “Earth Observation Support for Sustainable Tourism in Small Island States” and brought together representatives of a number of stakeholder groups, including providers of Earth observations and derived services and information; private and governmental tourist organizations, national governmental agencies, operators of infrastructure, non-governmental organizations, and researchers. Read more ...

History of the Workshop Series

Workhop Plan Summary: The CZCP is currently reconsidering the concept of regional workshops. Past experience shows that workshop often result in a set of valuable and relevant recommendations, but are challenged in subsequent implementation and follow up activities. The goal to stimulate regional activities is not easily achieved.

Plans for the Workshop Series

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