Coastal systems and human impacts
The coastal zone is one of the world’s areas more pervasively modified by humans over several millennia and even more since the industrial revolution. The Mediterranean Sea provides one of the most extensive and diverse variety of coastal environments in the world. The diversity of the Italian coasts reflects a great variety of landform types, climates and processes. ISMAR studies the driving processes and the response of coastal systems to the impacts of climatic fluctuations or longer-term climate change and man-related activities. These factors are included into improved environmental planning strategies.The evolution of the coastal zone is defined by integrating geophysical, sedimentological, hydrodynamical and geo-morphological observations, habitat mapping, comparison of historical maps (particularly valuable along the Mediterranean coast), and remote sensing. The impacts of human activities, during industrial and pre-industrial times, are defined with respect to major environmental effects/changes such as pollution, subsidence, coastal erosion, salt intrusion, biodiversity, etc. The quality of coastal and transitional environments is assessed by multidisciplinary investigations on hydrological, biogeochemical and ecological processes and by means of ecotoxicological approach.. Risk assessment and environmental modelling, together with GIS and Spatial Data Infrastructures, are tools that link scientific results to policy making, monitoring and management.