Coastal and Marine Geography: More Than Just Flotsam and Jetsam
1999 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Special Session: Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century
The 1990s saw a significant increase in popular interest in the U.S. regarding the geography of the world's coastal and marine spaces. Factors behind this new interest include growing environmental awareness, increased marine pollution, greater knowledge about (and technology for) depleting fishstocks, new opportunities for marine mineral extraction, several dramatic and costly coastal storms, new techniques for undertaking marine exploration, heightened understanding of the role of marine life in maintaining the global ecosystem, the implementation of the United Nations' Law of the Sea, domestic legislation on coastal zone management and off-shore fisheries policy, and the designation of 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean.
Geographic research has both responded to and fostered this interest. Physical geographers have supplemented classic topics such as coastal geomorphology and estuarine processes with newer areas of study including ocean-atmosphere interactions, marine ecology, and seafloor geomorphology. Research in these areas often makes use of remote sensing (using both audible and visible frequencies), GIS, and submersibles. Human geographers have supplemented classic concerns such as coastal planning and geopolitical conflict with studies that apply a range of theoretical perspectives to the critical understanding of competing marine uses, including fishing, mineral extraction, shipping, tourism, and, more generally, marine governance.
Keywords: Coastal and marine geography, Geography in America