Along coastal interfaces, components of the Earth system interact to regulate ecosystem functions and Earth’s climate. Between the land and ocean, diverse coastal ecosystem types transform, store, and transport material. A dynamic two-way exchange of energy and matter is driven by hydrological and marine processes such as river and groundwater discharge, tides, waves, and storms. Global models lack representation of coastal processes and related feedbacks on Earth’s climate and ecosystems, impeding their predictions of coastal and global response to change. We recommend leveraging existing monitoring networks and regional models to develop and validate global models that include the coastal interface.