Goals and Objectives
Human activity profoundly affects the coastal ocean, and coastal waters,
in turn, influence the lives of the vast and increasing populations that
live near them. A better understanding of this environment is imperative
for reasons that range from navigation and defense needs to fisheries and
Toward this end, an interdisciplinary group of coastal ocean scientists
has joined together to launch CoOP
(Coastal Ocean Processes). We define
the coastal ocean as extending from the surf zone to the edge of the continental
rise, an area generally ranging from 100 to 1000 kilometers wide and including
large inland water bodies that exhibit similar processes. The coastal ocean
provides a buffer between the land and the deep ocean. It is dynamically
distinct and often isolated from the rest of the ocean. It harbors a number
of unique physical and meteorological processes that promote high biological
productivity, active sedimentary processes, dynamic chemical transformations
and intense air-sea interaction.
Coastal ocean science has traditionally been undertaken by small groups
of investigators from one or two disciplines. This approach has succeeded
in studies of processes specificto a single discipline, such as tides,
but has not built understanding of the complex processes that cut across
traditional scientific divisions, such as toxic blooms or sediment dynamics.
Although there will always be a crucial role for small groups of investigators,
we believe the time is right for large-scale, fully interdisciplinary approaches
to the study of the coastal ocean. CoOP therefore encompasses biological,
chemical and geological oceanographers as well as marine meteorologists
and physical oceanographers. This group's goal is:
to obtain a new level of quantitative understanding of the processes
that dominate the transports, transformations and fates of biologically,
chemically and geologically important matter on the continental margins.
Understanding cross-margin transport is central to achieving this goal.
It links processes at work near the coast to those operating over the shelf
and farther offshore. Different processes dominate this transport near
the surface, in the central water column, and near the bottom, so that
we must pay close attention to each zone. These considerations helped to
shape the particular CoOP objectives, to understand:
To address this set of objectives, the CoOP plan calls for an extended
effort. A sequence of process studies receives primary emphasis and gives
structure to the overall CoOP effort. Each of these studies focusses on
a specific coastal region where one important process dominates. Modeling
studies will be integrated with the process studies and used as a means
to synthesize and generalize study results. The geographical diversity
of the coastal ocean is too great to allow careful measurements throughout,
so the generalizing capabilities of models are crucial to the overall effort.
In addition, long time-series measurements, exploratory studies, technological
development, and communications (including with the applied science community)
all require attention. CoOP is expected to attract support from a number
of agencies having an interest in the coastal ocean sciences.
The quantitative mechanisms, rates and consequences of cross-margin transport
of momentum, energy, solutes, Articulates organisms.
The atmospheric and air-sea interaction processes that affect biological
productivity, chemical transformations and cross-margin solute and particulate
The role of transport processes that couple the benthic and pelagic zones
of the continental margin.
The nature, effects and fates of terrestrial inputs of solutes, particles
and productivity in the coastal ocean.
The transformations of solutes, particulates and organisms across the continental
of CoOP calls for scientists to initiate the major CoOP field studies;
for each, one scientist will be charged with organizing a workshop to define
the specificinterdisciplinary objectives and approach. The CoOP steering
committee will then work with the scientist to refine the resulting plan
to assure that it is well-defined, scientifically satisfying and appropriately
interdisciplinary. Further, the steering committee will interact with funding
agencies to help coordinate and prioritize the scientific efforts.
From Brink et al. 1992. Coastal Ocean Processes: A Science
Prospectus. Technical Report WHOI-92-18. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
Woods Hole, MA