Typology, the study or systematic classification of types that have characteristics or traits in common, has become a commonly used term and technique in coastal zone and related studies. Typology techniques have been developed and applied by LOICZ because of their particular relevance to the challenges of understanding coastal processes. As can be seen from the Scientific Themes and Priority Topics, LOICZ efforts cut across not only academic disciplines, but also the larger domains of knowledge.
In situations where there is no clear understanding of interactions and no underlying integrative theory to rely on, classifications provide a crucial first step in formulating the questions to be answered, and in hinting at possible relationships. Quantitative classifications with an objective basis then provide means for developing and testing hypothesis, leading to interpretive and predictive models that in turn illuminate the underlying interactive relationships.
LOICZ has focused on developing methods and tools for the quantitative objective classifications, and on ways to put these tools in the hands of the scientists dealing with broad-ranging. Many approaches have been used, but the primary thrust has been the development and application of geospatial clustering tools, developed by Prof. Bruce Maxwell and his students. These tools – Web-LOICZView (WLV) and DISCO – are described in individual sections.