ORVALLIS, Ore. – A group of marine scientists from the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark and Africa will meet at Oregon State University on July 16-20 to create and discuss new programs in marine and coastal mapping, and emerging “informatics” technology that merges science with advanced computing systems.

The workshop, funded by the Office of International Science and Education of the National Science Foundation, will build on the efforts of a similar workshop held last year at the University College Cork in Ireland.

“This is the beginning of what we hope will be a long-term partnership and exchange of both students and faculty,” said Dawn Wright, professor of geosciences at OSU and expert in marine mapping technology. “There’s a growing public awareness of the critical state of our coastal zones and fisheries, and we believe that experts in geographic information science have much to contribute to improved management practices, decision making and hazard assessments.”

Worldwide, Wright said, about 20 percent of the people on Earth live within a few miles of a coastline, many of which have severe management or natural hazard concerns. Coastal mapping, geographic information systems and informatics technology are powerful tools that could be used to better address some of these concerns, she said, but are often not implemented as fully as they could be into management and policy decisions.

Wright was the co-organizer of both the Irish and U.S. conferences on this topic, along with the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre at University College Cork. Experts in many nations, Wright said, see a need to make coastal resource data and information available via interactive online atlases, along with more advanced geographic information system tools and procedures.

Some of that work is already well under way in Oregon, with creation of the Oregon Coastal Atlas, at http://www.coastalatlas.net It has been operational now for four years, and is the primary interactive map, data and metadata portal for Oregon coastal resource managers and planners.

The launch last year of a similar atlas and program in Ireland positions that country as one of the European leaders in web-based access to coastal and marine information, Wright said.

Many participants in the OSU conference will also attend the 2007 Coastal Zone conference on July 22-26 in Portland, Ore., which will attract 1,000 people from federal, state and local governments, academia, non-profit organizations and private industry.

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Dawn Wright,