85th AMS Annual Meeting

Monday, 10 January 2005: 9:15 AM
How understanding the coastal zone is important to everyday life
Richard Spinrad, NOAA/Ocean Service, Silver Spring, MD
Poster PDF (58.8 kB)
As the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has noted, a profound lack of understanding pervades the U.S. population about the role oceans play in everyone's lives. Even among the millions who live along our coasts, people have difficulty connecting ocean and coastal issues with the things they care about the most. NOAA's Ocean Service (NOS), which is charged with sustaining the prosperity of the nation's oceans and coasts through responsible management of our coastal resources, is working to help people understand that the oceans and coasts influence many aspects of our lives, including our economy, our quality of life, and our safety and security.

Currently more than half of the world's population lives along coastal areas, and with good reason. The coasts are the most productive and resource-rich areas on the planet. But increased population pressure (the U.N. predicts that coastal population will reach 75 percent by 2025) is leading to increased pressure on our coastal resources, many of which are already experiencing significant stress-related conditions. These stresses include point and nonpoint source pollution, overfishing, invasive species, and harmful algal blooms, all of which cause ecological and economic damage. NOS, through applied research, products and services, helps coastal communities minimize such threats and manage them effectively when they do occur. A critical component in our ability to provide these products and services is the development and maintenance of an integrated ocean observing system, a system in which NOAA is heavily invested.

NOS is implementing an ambitious and effective education and outreach campaign to increase people's knowledge and understanding of our coastal areas. We are developing and disseminating formal educational products, and partnering with professional educational societies to ensure product quality. We are bringing field-based observations and technology into the classrooms via the Web through several projects. Finally, we are coordinating with partners such as the American Meteorological Society to support new and existing informal education and outreach efforts.

Through all these efforts, NOS strives to be the global leader in the integrated management of the ocean.

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