Uncertainty in water quality data and its implications for trend detection: lessons from Swedish environmental data
2008 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, Vol. 11, no 2, 115-124 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The demands on monitoring systems have gradually increased, and interpretation of the data is often a matter of controversy. As an example of this, we investigated water quality monitoring and the eutrophication issue in Sweden. Our results demonstrate that powerful statistical tools for trend analysis can reveal flaws in the data and lead to new and revised interpretations of environmental data. In particular, we found strong evidence that long-term trends in measured nutrient concentrations can be more extensively influenced by changes in sampling and laboratory practices than by actual changes in the state of the environment. On a more general level, our findings raise important questions regarding the need for new paradigms for environmental monitoring and assessment. Introduction of a system in which conventional quality assurance is complemented with thorough statistical follow-up of reported values would represent a first step towards recognizing that environmental monitoring and assessment should be transformed from being a system for sampling and laboratory analyses into a system for interpreting information to support policy development.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 11, no 2, 115-124 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-44473DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2007.12.001Local ID: 76781OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-44473DiVA: diva2:265335