Progress in Coastal Processes Research in Ghana


In this work, we discuss an international research program focused on coastal processes in Ghana, presently in the middle stages of development. The goal of the ONR-sponsored program is for the University of Ghana to become a regional leader that produces top-flight and internationally relevant research in coastal processes. This is accomplished by creating partnerships with a variety of US and European institutions where education and capacity-building exercises for working in coastal environments are implemented. Part of the program is focused on shallow water processes with international participants providing expertise on in-depth theoretical knowledge, numerical model development and implementation, and field observation techniques, processing, and data assimilation methods. Program activities include a series of workshops conducted in 2008 and 2009 at the University of Ghana, and the development of field capabilities to observe coastal change with in situ and remote sensing instrumentation. The coastal and marine environment of Ghana contributes significantly to the economic development and security of the country. Ghana has demarcated a 200 nautical mile EEZ within the framework of UNCLOS. This has brought vast living and non-living resources under Ghanaian jurisdiction. Furthermore, shipping traffic continues to rise and associated problems with ballast water and potential oil spill raises concern for ecosystem health. The ability to monitor the environment will contribute immensely to the management of the marine ecosystem. The coastline of Ghana measures approximately 550 km and is generally a low-lying area not exceeding 30 m above sea level. The geomorphology of the coastline varies, ranging from coastal lagoons with barrier beaches to rocky cliffs fronted by narrow beaches to a large wave-dominated deltaic system (the Volta Delta). The coastal area is also bordered by a narrow continental shelf extending outwards between 30 and 90 km. Presently, there are high rates of retreat or erosion along many sections of the coastline. Shoreline recession is driven by the interplay of several factors, as wave and tidal forcing interacts with local sediment budgets (including anthropogenic disruption of sediment supply); in many cases, these processes remain poorly understood. In some areas, erosion is undermining or threatening major coastal roadways and other infrastructure. Limited resources to mitigate this threat as well as geographical constraints make this a serious problem for local communities and commerce. Understanding the past behavior of the system and the processes that drive coastal change in Ghana are critical to forecasting changes along the coastline. The research program is specifically providing assistance in the development of predictive numerical models and observational networks to examine these and other coastal-related problems.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Ocean Sciences Meeting


91, Issue 26

Conference Date

Feb 22 - Feb 26, 2010

Publisher Place

Portland, OR, USA

Document Type