Coastal SEES is focused on the sustainability of coastal systems. For this solicitation we define coastal systems as the swath of land closely connected to the sea, including barrier islands, wetlands, mudflats, beaches, estuaries, cities, towns, recreational areas, and maritime facilities; the continental seas and shelves; and the overlying atmosphere.
Humans benefit from their use of coastal environments for enjoyment, dwelling, food, industry, and commerce, and benefit from the myriad of ecosystem services that coastal environments provide. However, human activities often result in physical, chemical, and ecological alterations that influence and interact with natural state and variability, over a range of spatial and temporal scales. A major challenge is to understand the dynamics of this coupled human-natural system in order to inform societal decisions about the uses of coastal systems, including for economic, aesthetic, recreational, research, and conservation purposes.
Scientific understanding is foundational and must include an understanding of reciprocal feedbacks between humans and the natural environment; how people and organizations interpret, assess, and act upon scientific and other evidence; and how they weigh these interpretations against other interests to influence governance and decision-making. Thus, coastal sustainability relies on broad and intimately interconnected areas of scholarship about natural and human processes. Coastal SEES projects will be expected to lead to generalizable theoretical advances in natural sciences and engineering while, at the same time, integrating key aspects of human processes required to address issues of coastal sustainability.
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