Physical Oceanography and Marine Geology Research Area, Research Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences, Catholic University of Valencia, Spain
Received date April 13, 2012; Accepted date April 14, 2012; Published date April 16, 2012
Citation: Alcantara-Carrio J (2012) Hazards and Disasters Management: A Present Challenge for Marine Sciences. J Marine Sci Res Development 2:e104. doi: 10.4172/2155-9910.1000e104
Copyright: © 2012 Alcantara-Carrio J. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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On the occasion of the recent launching of the open access “Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development” (JMSRD) it could be interesting to prospect present challenges to marine sciences, and particularly the role of the marine sciences in the hazards and disasters management.
Marine sciences are a fascinating, vast and very dynamic set of sciences which involve a great number of scientists, engineers, technologists and other professionals working on the understanding, conservation, and resources exploitation of the oceans. Marine sciences include and integrate fields on oceanography, coastal management, archeology, engineering, aquaculture, fisheries and biotechnology, among others.
Oceanography represents a very particular approach to the integrated analysis of the oceans. It is a relatively younger science, if we compare it with the basic sciences. First oceanographic surveys date from the end of the 18th century, due to the interest of naturalists like J. Cook, C.W. Thomson, J. Murray and C. Darwin to describe the biodiversity of the oceans, the changes in their physical and chemical properties and their geological characteristics. Since then, the objectives of the oceanography cover the physical, chemical, biological and geological study of the oceans, and certainly, many of its present research areas can be considered as applications of basic sciences to the marine environment. Furthermore, challenges such as new species identification or the determination of geomorphologic evolution remain equally valid for both continental and marine environments.
The extraordinary technological development has been critical to the consolidation of the marine sciences during the last century, for example the cartography of the seafloor, the description of the oceanic conveyer belt, or the development of engines to obtain mineral resources and renewable energy. This influence of the technological development in the marine sciences has increased over the last decades, with the advance of oceanography marked by the application of remotes sensing and numerical modeling.
Moreover, in recent decades, the multiple interactions between scientists of very different disciplines has lead to the development of new specific fields of knowledge and research, such as sustainable development or climate change, which normally would not be considered as classical disciplines of science, and where marine sciences are clearly implicated. Sustainable development and climate change are clearly recent challenges for the marine sciences.
Climate change popularity allows a wider understanding of its meaning and consequences for society, when compare with other areas of research. Nevertheless, while this popularization of the climate change takes place, scientists have come to consider climate change as a particular aspect of the global change. Global change includes many other aspects of the human impact in the world, and consequently in oceans. In fact, while climate change has become too political and controversial, other consequences of the global change like the biodiversity loss, pollution, natural landscape destruction, natural resources exhaustion and even human hunger can be easily observed.
Nevertheless, global change is only one of the many hazards affecting our world. In fact, regardless of their natural or human induced origin, reports of disasters have increased during the last decades and therefore, hazards and disasters management have become a priority issue for society and consequently for scientists. This increase of disasters is mainly due to a mix of reasons including greater concentration of population in areas areas at risk, and low capacity to respond to such events. Thus, for example, the concentration of population in coastal areas has determined a higher vulnerability (due to location of communities and settlements characteristics) to marine events and consequently an increase of disasters. We can not decrease the exposure to many hazards, and so it is necessary to reduce the vulnerability of the people and infrastructures. The inclusion of disasters and risks reduction into integrated coastal zone management strategies remains a challenge for many coastal settlements.
Hazards and disasters management is a multidisciplinary challenge and requires the participation of several natural and social sciences, as well as practitioners, engineers, architects, lawyers, doctors, and urban planners among many other professionals. Numerous efforts of governments, the United Nations and affiliated agencies, multilateral banks, international development agencies, multilateral organizations, and many insurance companies demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. Hazards and disasters remain a challenge and the marine sciences has a great responsibility in providing information and knowledge to understand the earth processes and changes, as well as to predict, as accurately as possible, their outcomes and impacts, and to define the strategies to adapt and mitigate accordingly. As scientists and professionals of marine sciences, we must assume our roles and responsibilities. Open access journals as the JMSRD would be expected to spread the message and knowledge to society about hazards and disasters management, and therefore integrate them to the search and implementation of the most adequate solutions.
In conclusion, without going into an exhaustive description of all topics currently involved in marine sciences, as it would require a very large analysis, it can be accepted that nowadays the classical objectives of the marine sciences continue to be necessary, but hazards and disasters management has become one priority challenge for the marine sciences in the present, and most likely during the whole 21st century.
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