Coastal Ocean Institute

  • Coastal Ocean Institute
    (Photo by Chris Griner, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Understanding the increasingly complex phenomena of the dynamic coastal zone

Competing needs and uses vie in the coastal ocean, the narrow area from the outer edge of the continental shelf to the estuaries where salt and fresh water meet. This is the most biologically productive part of the ocean, and it is the most fished, the most modified, the most subject to natural and industrial disasters. With the growth of the human coastal zone population and greater demand for recreational and commercial uses of the shore, this environment is increasingly threatened. Some of the threats are highly visible, while others are subtle and difficult to discern.

The Coastal Ocean Institute engages in cutting-edge research, encouraging the multidisciplinary science required to resolve the complexities of many of the phenomena of the coastal zone. COI researchers gain understanding that will ultimately bear on important scientific questions, as well as the management of coastal problems—including red tides, beach erosion, oil spills, agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, storms and land development—within three broad themes: the dynamic land/sea margin; natural and anthropogenic threats to the coastal environment; and the development of tools and technologies for coastal research.