New Need to Understand Changing Coastal and Inland Aquatic Ecosystem Services

Turpie, K., D. W. Allen, S. Ackelson, T. Bell, H. Dierssen, K. Cavanaugh, J. B. Fisher, J. Goodman, L. S. Guild, E. Hochberg, V. V. Klemas, S. Lavender, C. Lee, F. Muller-Karger, J. Ortiz, S. L. Palacios, D. R. Thompson, and R. Zimmerman (2015), New Need to Understand Changing Coastal and Inland Aquatic Ecosystem Services, doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.5162.6007.

Coastal and inland aquatic ecosystems support biodiversity, buffer human and animal habitats against storms and floods, and play a key role in the cycling of carbon, minerals and nutrients. Coastal wetlands support fisheries that provide food, livelihood, and recreation to roughly half of the global population. Inland waters provide critical freshwater resources for human consumption, irrigation, sanitation, industry, recreation, and play a vital role in human health and safety. With a growing global population of over seven billion people, and a warming atmosphere driven by carbon dioxide now in excess of 400 ppm, it has become clear that these services are at risk globally. We know little, however, about how these ecosystems function in response to such unprecedented external pressures, partly because we cannot adequately observe or monitor even the highest-level attributes such as extent, phenology, standing biomass, material exchanges, and rate of change. Timely and accurate, spatially resolved environmental information is necessary to support effective aquatic resource policy and management and assure water quality for human health and welfare. This white paper, which was submitted in response to a request for information by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine study, Steering Committee for Earth Science and Applications from Space, discusses the need and challenges of using of space borne remote sensing to facilitate observations of these vital ecosystems on synoptic and global scales.

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