Candidate of geographical science, R.N.Karimov

Senior lecturer at Azerbaijan University


Changes going by natural and economic landscapes of the world increase some corresponding studies within geography. One of significant subfields of geographical science is study on coasts, their environmental condition and affects made on coastal zones by industrial activity. Ecogeographical condition of coasts and coastal zones as well as changes taking place in these areas becomes an important issue studied by contemporary geographers. Defining changes in coastal zones and shorelines taking place due to natural and anthropogenic factors enable researchers to predict some possible environmental changes.

Coastal areas distinguish themselves for a number of features. Having complex environment, coastal areas differ from other areas for dynamic indigenous processes and changes in relief because of influential and destructive exogenous factors such as climate, heavy winds, and abrasion. Located in contact zone of land- and water areas, coasts and coastal areas are very perceptible to environmental processes, including ecological factors. In addition, involvement of coastal areas to a circle of human activity makes their landscapes more sensible. As an indicator of outcomes of impact on environment, coasts and their biotic and abiotic components obviously reflect consequences of natural processes and disasters, such as, for example, hydrometeorological changes. The role of studying shorelines has been increased in recent times also in connection with active global climatic changes. Hydrobiological and chemical processes become more complex in self zones with influence of natural and anthropogenic factors.

Protection of populated coastal territories and humans living there from dangerous natural and destructive processes as well as needed security measurements necessitate studying natural and landscape peculiarities of those areas. Besides this, recreational importance of coasts considerably depends on ecological condition of them. Gained data on inhabited coastal zones are useful in management of natural disasters and coast-fastening works.

Having favorable natural condition and large potentiality of resources, coastal regions play significant role in development not only of those territories but also all country they belong to. Possibilities for human distribution as well as perspectives of socioeconomic development are greater in coastal zones. This is mostly related to their advantageous transport position. Therefore, changes by landscapes of coastal areas result in corresponding changes in their transport- and geographical significance. Economic development of coastal areas does not considerably depend on many adverse factors related to natural condition such as aridity of climate, or low fertility of soil cover.

Coasts play very significant role in economic and social life of countries, being also areas of political and even military importance. As political and economic factors are changeable, coasts’ landscapes have considerably changed in the twentieth century. About 90 percent of the world’s trade turnover has been implemented via oceans and sea ways. Considerable part of free trade zones has been created in coastal areas. Many industrial areas to-day continue to be located near shores and sea ways. Countries still develop and take economic advantage of their coastal regions. There are about 150 countries in the world which have an access to the World Ocean and its seas. Coastal zones are important outlet for these countries that have 90% of the world’s population. About 3.5 million people live in areas within 200 kilometers of coastlines which makes almost a half of the world’s population. Coastal zones have a great importance of providing an area with energy, water and food. Many areas of infrastructure develop in coastal zones. The largest industrial centers as well as huge conurbations and cities locate in coastal zones. Coasts experience greater impact compared to the previous decades as human flow to these areas increases. Process of urbanization of coastal zones grows with a high speed. There are more than 100 millionaire cities located on coasts. In the meantime, recreational potentialities of many coastal areas continue to be increased as population number grows while territories do not. With growing population density, marine ecosystems experience high ecological risk because of increased sewage, garbage and wastes.

In general, environmental problems have become more critical in coastal zones in comparison with inland areas. Coasts firstly experience adverse effects of contamination of seas and water basins, damage on submarine flora and fauna. Increasing attention by scientists and politicians to a problem of protecting water resources and coastal landscapes makes necessary international collaboration on this issue. Environmental problems of coasts and coastal zones are at the center of attention of governments and international organizations. The 1998 year had been declared as the year of World Ocean by the UN.

In 1999, European Union have accepted European Code of Conduct for Coastal Zones which includes a realization of document on preserving Coastal and Marine Ecosystems that is an integral part of regional strategy on protection of biological and landscape biodiversity. This recommendatory document deals with complex management of seas and coastal areas as places of ecological significance.

The 4th global conference organized by the UN in Hanoi, Vietnam (2008) was devoted to problems of oceans, shores and islands. The official accepted document of this conference named ‘Guidance on Adaptation to Water and Climate Changes’ notes that the global climate change necessitates improving management of coastal areas. It was emphasized in the conference that the factor of climate requires more correct decisions made by scientists as well as developing new approaches related to management of coastal areas.

Indeed, responsibility of scientists grows because of needed complex study on coastal zones, particularly inhabited ones. Many studies on coasts have been carried out by scientists from different countries within the twentieth century. Most of scientific works have been devoted to physical geography of coasts. A.Guilcher, J.Bojyo-Garnyet, J.Shabo, R.Knaps, I.Monk-Petersen, V.Bondarenko, Y.Dolotov, V.Preobrajenski, R.Paskoff, J.Stashevski, Y.Saushkin, N.Aybulatov, Y.Alayev, G.Haase, C.Carter, H.Richter, R.Snead, A.Vallega, R.Vollbrecht, L.Kimball, M.Schwartz, C.Chaline, and other researchers have studied various aspects of coasts’ environment within different periods, including geoecological features, role of hydrological regime in formation of shores, evolution of relief forms, influence of waves on beach, climatic factor, and others. Researches of Australian scientist, professor of Melbourne University E.Bird on coasts’ morphology and coastal landscapes are particularly should be noted. The scientist have studied tens of coastal forms and shorelines of the world’s various regions, changings in their morphology as well as erosional processes taking places on beaches. Data collected by him are useful for further researches on changings by shores. Undoubtedly, scientific works of the all above-noted researchers should be highly appreciated.

However, in the twentieth century, many studies on coasts’ and coastal zones’ environment had descriptive character. Within the past decades, shores have been geographically studied mainly by traditional methods and ways, including comparative study, fixation of processes on basis of direct observations and taking photos in the air, hydrographic and topographic planning, statistic method, and etc. To-day, it is more rational to pass from passive observation and fixation of facts to active functioning such as exploiting and applying new ways and methods for improving beaches as well as effectively using and changing coastal landscapes. Social factors also should be viewed more in comparison with the previous researches. Direct and indirect role of humans in formation and evolution of coastal landscapes requires complex studying these areas. Beside physic-geographical peculiarities of beaches’ landscapes, coastal areas must be studied in context of socioeconomic assessment and recreational perspectives.

It is important to update information on a studied territory when researching and managing coastal zone. With development of cartography as well as increasing technology, contemporary geographers take an advantage of learning areas with higher precision, using up-to-date digital maps and descriptions. Destructive influence of waves as well as processes of gab and flow on shorelines necessitates reviewing previous data, providing satellite mapmaking works and comparing them with previously made descriptions. On the basis of available data, geological structure of the area is also being restudied. Description- and mapmaking with ILWIS, 3.1 Arc, Landsat ETM+ and other GIS programs, and also mathematic modeling, including 2DH and 3D modeling as well as radiometric correction and geocoding when learning geographical position of areas, enable researchers to correctly study shorelines and observe processes around them.

The main aspects of necessity of learning coastal landscapes by contemporary geographers may be formulated as follows:

-         It is important to relearn previously studied areas with modern technology to define physical and environmental processes with more precisely;

-         Studies on coasts should be carried out complexly, more actively taking into account social factors;

-         Human influence on environmental conditions of coastal zones makes necessary studying new ways and forms of managing these areas as well as new directions such as ‘delimitation and more responsible management’, ‘reviewing environmental risks of coastal areas’, ‘exploiting internationally recognized global conception on coasts’.