Nearshore communities, which make up over 40% of Earth’s population, interact with the ocean through recreation, the conservation of marine protected areas, and commerce, with many people’s livelihoods dependent on fisheries. Sustaining these relationships relies on understanding how material like plankton and pollutants moves between the shoreline and continental shelf in coastal waters. An accurate characterization of this transport is important for protecting public health, as harmful algal blooms present health hazards and threaten aquaculture. A newly published review article, partially funded by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) program, describes various atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms that play a part in the exchange of these materials. Researchers from multiple U.S. institutions determine the relative importance of each mechanism in this review. COM-supported researcher Melanie Fewings led the research effort on wind-driven transport, with a focus on upwelling and downwelling scenarios. This work, published in Annual Review of Marine Science, can be used as a tool to identify the primary processes driving material exchange depending on the study site, time period, and particle behavior. The review effectively characterizes the complex and large-scale coastal processes of material transport, advancing the use of NOAA data in CPO’s Marine Ecosystems risk area initiative.