The third grand challenge reflects the importance of planning to the future environmental and economic health of U.S. coastal areas. Effective planning demands an understanding of the likely scenarios for change to the geologic framework of coastal environments, whether from long-term climate change or from extreme short-term events or human activities.
As pointed out in the recent National Science Foundation planning document entitled The Future of Marine Geology and Geophysics, ''An important area of future research will be in characterizing and modeling (non-linear) systems in which the input forcing is known or can be measured and the system response can be inferred from the geologic record (geologic time scales) or from direct observation (human time scales)'' (NSF, 1999). CGMP, through efforts to address the first two grand challenges, should be in a strong position to lead or contribute efforts to understand the complex and often nonlinear geological processes of coastal and marine environments. The CMGP should expand and strengthen quantitative model development and change-forecast products to meet management needs for defining the future geologic framework of coastal margins. This approach is consistent with the pursuit of other grand challenges and with the scientific methods and the principles of adaptive management.
As implied to several times in this and the previous chapter, the committee recognizes that reorganizing CMGP efforts will require that, at least initially, CMGP concentrate its efforts on fewer projects and develop a viable mechanism for identifying the near-term focus and adjusting that focus over time. The following chapter lays out one possible strategy for CMGP.