What is LOICZ?
The LOICZ Project is one of six programme elements of the IGBP and one of five of the IHDP, and focuses on the interface of the Earth system where land, ocean and atmosphere meet and interact. The overall goal of this project is to determine at regional and global scales:
- the nature of that dynamic interaction;
- how changes in various components of the Earth system are affecting coastal zones and altering their role in global cycles;
- to assess how future changes in these areas will affect their use by people and;
- to provide a sound scientific basis for future integrated management of coastal areas on a sustainable basis.
LOICZ has developed scientific knowledge and tools that address global change in the coastal zone, focusing on material flux and human dimensions at regional and global scales. For LOICZ purposes, the coastal zone incorporates the domain extending from river catchments through the land-sea interface and coastal shelf, to the shelf margins. Globally LOICZ has established regional coastal projects addressing natural and socio-economic knowledge and tools development for material flux from river catchments to the coastal shelf.
The LOICZ synthesis volume has identified key issues for future objectives of LOICZ as part of a continued IGBP and IHDP. A new Science Plan and Implementation Strategy for LOICZ has been developed following a Synthesis and Futures Meeting in 2002. Future activities of LOICZ will continue to address key biogeochemical processes and focus more strongly on human interactions. The project is organized under five themes:
- Vulnerability of coastal systems and hazards to human society
- Implications of global change for coastal ecosystems and sustainable development
- Anthropogenic influences on the river basin and coastal zone interactions
- Biogeochemical cycles in coastal and shelf waters
- Towards coastal system sustainability by managing land-ocean interactions
Crosscutting activities, such as scaling and modeling, variability, dissemination and acquisition (of data and funds) support these themes.
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The LOICZ project commenced in 1993 with the establishment of the International Project Office (IPO) at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Texel - The Netherlands. The Office has been financially supported by the Dutch Government. Operations followed the Science Plan (IGBP Report No. 25, 1993) and Implementation Strategy (IGBP Report No. 33, 1995). LOICZ was scheduled to run for 10 years.
In comparison with the relatively uniform environment of the sunlight zone of the open ocean, or the rapidly mixed environment of the atmosphere, the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the world's coastal zones is considerable. As a consequence, there are considerable methodological problems associated with developing global perspectives of the role of this compartment in the functioning of the total Earth system. Identifying and quantifying this role, and developing scenarios of change, in the coastal compartment of the Earth system under anthropogenic and geocentric driving forces of change requires a considerable body of research.
The LOICZ Implementation Plan provided a blueprint of research and integrative activities to meet the project goals. Research and Tasks were organized under four foci providing individual and national research that contributed to the overall goals of LOICZ. Framework activities provided mechanisms for coordination and consolidation of research results.
Unlike many of the other Core Projects of the IGBP, LOICZ deals with a specific spatially heterogeneous domain rather than a process. To achieve the overall goals and objectives a global network of coastal scientists had to be developed. Some funding and other support was provided from the Core Project to foster research especially in developing countries since their coastlines encompass the bulk of the world's tropical shores and are areas where the rates of anthropogenically driven change are considerable.
The objective of LOICZ is not to undertake coastal zone management. A clear goal is to provide a sound scientific basis to underpin future decisions for sustainable use by integrated management of land-ocean interactions.
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Based on the outcomes from the implementation of the first 10 years of activity, LOICZ has been identified as a continuing core project under IGBP II and, from 2004, IHDP. A new Science Plan and Implementation Strategy (SPIS) for the period 2003-12 has been developed. LOICZ recognizes the growing importance of linking coastal zone science to coastal zone management and this is reflected in the theme structure of the SPIS. The core purpose of LOICZ remains scientific research although with an increased focus on integrated analysis and synthesis that includes human dimensions. Operationally this requires the continued leadership of the LOICZ Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) supported by an effective IPO structure for management on a day to day basis. In order to enhance the regional activities of LOICZ a distributed IPO Node structure is being implemented. During the transitional period (2003-2005) the Dutch Government has continued to support the Central IPO on Texel, The Netherlands. To date Regional IPO Nodes have been established to cover Europe (GKKS, Germany), Southeast Asia (NTU, Singapore) and South Asia (NSF, Sri Lanka). The Regional IPO Nodes will increase the presence of LOICZ regionally and provide greater opportunity and support of research as well as enhanced networking.
As of January 2006 the Central IPO is hosted by the Institute for Coastal Research at GKSS, Geesthacht, Germany.
A globally distributed network of coastal zone researchers is carrying out much of the LOICZ research. From about 400 scientists involved in developing the first Science Plan published in 1993, this network now extends to 2,500 scientists and stakeholders in 130 countries. National LOICZ contacts have been identified in many countries to provide a link between national and international LOICZ research activities. These people supported by the Regional IPO Nodes will provide a focal point for those interested in getting additional information on local and national LOICZ research. Consequently a major portion of LOICZ global research continues to be carried out by local and regional research projects.
Ongoing LOICZ Core Research Project activities from phase one will continue and new core research fields are emerging with the development of the new SPIS. LOICZ will continue to seek strong collaboration with relevant partners within and beyond the Earth System Science Partnership of IGBP, IHDP, WCRP and DIVERSITAS.
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