Coastal Oceans



The coastal ocean is one of the most important and dynamic regions of the world. It is a critical habitat for more than 90% of all marine organisms. These organisms are strongly affected by physical conditions, including winds, waves, rivers, as well as the topography of the sea floor and the shape of the coastline. Changes in these environmental conditions are strongly coupled to variations in the productivity, population size, and community structure of these coastal ecosystems.

In addition to physical conditions, these ecosystems are also heavily affected by a variety of human activities, such as marine recreation, pollution, and the harvesting of marine resources. 

As the number of people living along the coast continues to increase, the impact of these activities on the coastal ecosystem will only intensify. In order to understand how the coastal ecosystems will be affected by environmental perturbations (both natural and human-caused), we must first understand the complex interplay between the physical forces and biological communities.

PISCO is devoted to improving our understanding of the coastal marine ecosystem through an integrated, long-term monitoring program.  This program includes both oceanographic and ecological monitoring, and spans the near-shore (<25 m depth) and rocky intertidal habitats. In addition, PISCO brings together scientists across a wide range of disciplines to perform local process studies that address specific questions. Some specific areas of focus for PISCO include climate change, ocean acidification, and hypoxia. With these two scientific approaches, PISCO helps to conserve and protect coastal marine ecosystems through

  1. An increased understanding of the basic processes governing the essential features of these systems

  2. The effective transfer of new scientific knowledge to the public and policy makers.


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