Monitoring Network Design

Authored by: James V. Zidek , Dale L. Zimmerman

Handbook of Spatial Statistics

Print publication date:  March  2010
Online publication date:  March  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420072877
eBook ISBN: 9781420072884
Adobe ISBN:


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Important environmental processes have been monitored for a variety of purposes for a very long time. Concerns about climate change have led to the measurement of sea levels and the extent to which polar ice caps have receded. Concern for human health and welfare and the need to regulate airborne pollutants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has led to the development of urban airshed monitoring networks; cities out of compliance with air quality standards suffer serious financial penalties. The degradation of landscapes, lakes, and monuments led to the establishment of networks for monitoring acidic precipitation as well as to surveys of water quality. Exploratory drilling to find oil reserves on the northern slopes of Alaska generated concern for the health of benthic organisms that feed the fish that feed human populations. The result was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency's (NOAA) decision to monitor the concentrations of trace metals in the seabed before and after the startup of drilling (Schumacher and Zidek, 1993). Predicting the height of tsunamis following earthquakes in the Indian Ocean has led NOAA to install monitoring buoys (“tsunameters”) that can help assess the type of earthquake that has occurred. Hazardous waste sites also must be monitored. Mercury, a cumulative poison, must be monitored and that poses a challenge for designing a monitoring network because mercury can be transported in a variety of ways. Concerns about flooding, along with the need for adequate supplies of water for irrigation, has resulted in the monitoring of precipitation as well as snow-melt; not surprisingly, hydrologists were among the earliest to develop rational approaches to design. Ensuring water quality leads to programs that collect water samples at specific locations along seafronts popular with swimmers, with red flags appearing on bad days.

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