Coastal zone

"The area of land and sea along the coast, including estuaries, onshore areas and offshore areas; wherever they form an integral part of the coastal system." (United Nations Publications, 2013) 


United Nations Publications. "Glossary of Shared Water Resources (English-Arabic): Technical, Socioeconomic and Legal Terminology." (2013). DOI:

Related Content


Mind the mapping gap between the ocean and coastal zones

Do you know that about 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, yet it remains unmapped? As NASA oceanographer Dr. Gene Feldman said,

“We have better maps of the surface of Mars and the moon than we do of the bottom of the ocean.”

But can all these vast blue portions of the universe be explored and mapped like the Mars, which is 54.6 million kilometers away from us, but have nearly 90% of its surface mapped? "Well, that's the million-dollar question, isn't it?"

Call: CASSINI Maritime Prize Contest - EU Space for Marine Ecosystems Protection

Of the 300 million tons of plastic produced every year, an estimated 26 million eventually ends up in the ocean. As a result, some estimates suggest there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans and seas. Even more concerning is the fact that this number is expected to increase, with National Geographic predicting that the annual amount of plastic flowing into the oceans will triple by 2040. 

Capacity Building and Training Material

ARSET - Introduction to Remote Sensing for Coastal and Ocean Applications


In this introductory webinar, participants will be provided with an overview of remote sensing for coastal and ocean applications. This will include a background in aquatic remote sensing, data access and tools for processing and analysing imagery, and examples and live demonstrations of applied science tools that have been developed for NASA and partner organizations. This course will review data products from MODIS, VIIRS, HICO, and other sensors commonly used for ocean applications.

ARSET - Remote Sensing of Coastal Ecosystems


Coastal and marine ecosystems serve key roles for carbon storage, nutrients and materials cycling, as well as reservoirs of biodiversity. They also provide ecosystems services such as sustenance for millions of people, coastal protection against wave action, and recreational activities. Remote sensing of coastal and marine ecosystems is particularly challenging. Up to 90% of the signal received by the sensors in orbit comes from the atmosphere.

UN SPIDER Recommended Practice: Use of Digital Elevation Data for Storm Surge Coastal Flood Modelling


Storm surges and tidal waves are global phenomena that considerably affect human populations in coastal and island regions. According to the Guide to Storm Surge Forecasting published by the World Meteorological Organization in 2011, storm surges can be defined as “oscillations of the water level in a coastal or inland body of water in the time range of a few minutes to a few days, resulting from forcing from atmospheric weather systems. According to this definition, the so-called wind waves, which have durations on the order of several seconds, are excluded”.


Local Perspectives Case Studies

Women and their everyday lives related to Water: Joy Marie Lawrence from Cape Town

Dry soil
The City of Cape Town is a coastal city that was facing severe water shortages. In Cape Town,  water is sourced from the surrounding dams which collect the rain fall water from the mountains. Water is pumped via a distribution network to households and businesses. In 2018 and 2019 water supply was severely disrupted due to limited rain fall during the winter rainfall season. The dams were running dry and there was a concerted effort from the local government and national government about the water shortages in Cape Town and some parts of the country. As a consequence, water distribution was severely reduced to prevent the dams from running dry - which at a particular point the dams were as low as 10 per cent of capacity. Water users (residents, businesses, and industries) were urged to use water efficiently and avoid overconsumption; if not, there were penalties introduced for overuse. The citizens were subjected to water cuts and had to resort to bottled water or collect water from the tankers for drinking. Greywater use was encouraged for irrigating food and non-food gardens, flushing toilets, cleaning vehicles etc. Water use for recreational purposes was banned and alternative supplies of water were transported via tankers to Cape Town. The City also tried a temporary de-salination plant at huge costs as a means of getting drinkable water to citizens. After a good raining winter season in 2020, the dams are moderately full again but the risk of another drought is ever present. There are surrounding aquifers however the quality of the water has not been fully assessed, more technical data will assist in this regard.


Satsense Solutions Limited

Satsense Solutions Limited is a start-up company that uses satellite earth observation to develop business and governance solutions addressing the challenges of resource management, climate change and sustainable development. It has developed and deployed several applications in the Water Resources, Hydropower, Mining and Infrastructure sectors. These include assessments of eutrophication levels in lakes and reservoirs and sedimentation rates at hydropower plants. Identification of pollution in rivers, acid mine drainage and tailings at mining sites.