COI New Initiatives: Development of a National Program on Coastal Dynamics Research


Project Funded 2006:

Many coastal regions of the world have experienced unprecedented development
over the past century. Much of this development is incompatible with the dynamic nature
of the shoreline and there is significant controversy about how to best manage coastal
resources. This debate has intensified in the face of recent concerns of projected climate
change, sea-level rise and increased storm activity and their potential impacts on coastal

Although there has been progress in many areas of coastal geology, our
fundamental understanding of shoreline change has been limited by a lack of a broad and
integrated scientific focus, a lack of resources, and a lack of willingness on the part of
policymakers who make crucial decisions about human activity along the coast to support
basic research in this area.

We propose to take the next steps in developing a multi-agency research program
on coastal change, building upon efforts at WHOI over the last 2-3 years. One step in the
realization of such a program is to organize a meeting at the national level with
representatives of the key agencies (NSF, NOAA, USGS, ONR and USACE) to establish
the framework for the program in terms of scientific scope, priority subject areas, and
allocated resources. A subsequent step would be an open science meeting consisting of the
same individuals, plus scientists and coastal managers who would work to develop a
science plan, and ultimately an implementation plan.

The ultimate goal is to establish a peer-reviewed competitive program from which
WHOI scientists can seek funds for large scale interdisciplinary research programs in the
general area of “Coastal Dynamics.” In order to be representative of the wider community
as we visit D.C. we have invited three scientists from other institutions to join us in our
effort. The meeting in D.C. should happen soon. With the impact of Katrina still fresh in
mind, and with very recent reports suggesting an acceleration in the melting of the polar
ice-caps, this is undoubtedly the right time to push the agenda.