The GHA coastal zones and wetlands supports a diversity of habitats and resources encompassing mangroves, rocky shores, sandy beaches, deltas, estuaries and coastal wetlands, coral reefs and lagoons. Coral reefs and mangroves are especially important features because they protect the coastline by moderating storm and wave impacts and because mangroves stabilize sand and soils, cycle nutrients, absorb and break down waste products, provide wildlife habitat, and maintain biodiversity. Reefs and mangroves also contribute significantly to the economies of coastal countries by providing opportunities for tourism and for harvesting of resources.
However, coastal zones, marine and wetland areas are vulnerable to climate related hazards such as storms including tropical cyclones/ hurricanes; waves and storm surges, tsunamis, river flooding, shoreline erosion, and influx of biohazards such as algal blooms and pollutants. Furthermore, climate variability substantially alters the distribution and abundance of major fish stocks, and has implications for marine populations and ecosystems.
To mitigate these problems, ICPAC’s marine, coastal/aquatic sector has a goal of: enhancing the application of climate information and prediction products for early warning of climate related marine hazards and integrated planning, and management of coastal zones and wetlands resources
To achieve this goal, the sector is engaged in:
- Improving the understanding of the linkages between climate and the oceans for accurate climate predictions through analysis of impacts of ocean SSTs, sea levels changes & weather phenomena (e.g. tropical cyclones) on marine/aquatic resources.
- Provision Climate information for exploitation of coastal, aquatic resources through increased observation and monitoring in support of coastal zones, marine/aquatic resources.
- Improving the level of preparedness in marine and coastal zones to respond to climate related threats such as tropical cyclones (TC), pollution etc through Risk/Vulnerability mapping and zoning of marine and coastal resources for the GHA countries.
- Enhancing linkages with other research organizations dealing with marine and aquatic resources through creation of awareness on factoring of climate information and early warning products in national and regional marine/aquatic management policies.
- Improving the processes of exchanging climate and marine and coastal zones information with other research institutions (e.g. KEMFRI, UNESCO, ODINAFRICA, etc)