Research on Environmental Monitoring
Beginning in the late 1980s, researchers within the Office of Research and Development at the Environmental Protection Agency conceptualized, designed and implemented an Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). The EMAP was—and still is—designed to be a research-based (that is, having a focus on investigating in scientifically-defensible ways the bases and components of measuring and evaluating the condition of ecological resources) undertaking. It is important to understand that EMAP is not an operational monitoring program. As designed, its primary purpose has been to establish the scientific and technical capacity to support the generation of data and information of known statistical confidence to be used in the conduct of ecological resource status and trend assessments. An important aspect of the program is enabling the transfer of its theoretical, scientific and technical foundations to the monitoring sciences and technology communities domestically—and worldwide.
The bases and components researched by the program include:
- statistical (that is, probability-based) monitoring designs that can achieve scientifically defensible measures of changes in ecosystem condition; research on these designs has shown the workability of developing sampling strategies that can deliver data and other information along with understanding of the confidence that accompanies that data and information;
- development and validation of ecological indicators and indices that reliably describe the condition (referred to often as the 'health') of ecological systems (and their inherent processes);
- investigations into the scientific and methodological constraints to the comprehensive recognition and representation of spatial and temporal differences inherent in data and information collected within and across ecological systems; and
- studies of information management as a fundamental element in designing and conducting monitoring studies, and in analyzing, retaining and reporting the range of data and information associated with stated monitoring needs.
A complete bibliography of the scientific publications produced by the research program is available at the link indicated below.