Next Generation Monitoring of Coastal Systems in a Scenario of Global Change
The future prosperity of human society is expected to increasingly rely on marine systems, whether due to the increasing demand for food, energy or mineral resources, for innovative medical treatments based on novel bioactive agents, or simply because the oceans are seen as a privileged path for trading and transportation of goods. Increasing impacts on marine ecosystems are expected, as a result of human population growth and of an increasing pressure for obtaining additional resources. Global alterations are, to some extent, coupled with this human growth and increase demand for more resources, which in turn may be causing additional impacts on the ecosystems and jeopardizing their balance. As societies seem to be increasingly relying on marine systems to guarantee their future, they seem to be unable to unlock new development paradigms towards a sustainable growth. The main reason behind this inability is the lack of knowledge about the natural processes that are affecting marine ecosystems. The ecosystem health depends on a wide number and type of variables, most of them are still unknown or insufficiently characterized. This information is vital for a more sustainable exploitation of marine resources and requires historical references, long-term monitoring programs and assessment of the main drivers of degradation. This proposal aims to create the foundations to the next generation of marine systems management, based on knowledge and innovation and supported by the team’s expertise in the areas of electronics, materials, taxonomy, ecology, conservation and metagenomics, using the NW of Portugal as a case study. Monitoring is at the centre of this commitment. Efficient monitoring tools based on cutting-edge technologies (lab-on-chip, CMEMs, smart materials and underwater networks together in marine electronic applications) is essential to broaden the type, frequency, temporal and spatial scales of variables and type of habitats to be monitored. This development will occur in close relation with the Biology, Electronics and Civil Engineering fields. The effective monitoring of marine systems will provide the ideal and necessary background for future innovation in marine ecosystems, structures and monitoring systems, in a holistic perspective. New synergies will be unlocked in order to make the transition from an antagonist relation into a sustainable evolution paths based on actions that are beneficial to both the ecosystems and the human activities. Effective knowledge about the marine systems will support not only the decision making process but also the establishment of a baseline database, that will allow to detect abiotic and biotic changes in response to global stressors in the marine environment. This approach will enable us to anticipate problems and support of adapting strategies for communities and ecosystems, by increasing its global resilience.