The Role of Monitoring and Modeling


This chapter reviews monitoring and modeling and how each can best be used to increase understanding of coastal nutrient over-enrichment and develop management approaches. It finds:

  • There is still great need for better technical information on status and trends in the marine environment to guide management and regulatory decisions, verify the efficacy of existing programs, and help shape national policy.

  • Effective marine environmental monitoring programs must have clearly defined goals and objectives; a technical design based on an understanding of system linkages and processes; testable questions and hypotheses; peer review; methods that employ statistically valid observations and predictive models; and the means to translate data into information products tailored to the needs of their users, including decisionmakers and the public.

  • There is no simple formula to ensure a successful monitoring program. Adequate resources—time, funding, and expertise—must be committed to the initial planning. The program should address all sources of variability and uncertainty, as well as cause and effect relationships. A successful monitoring program requires input from everyone who will use the data—scientists, managers, decisionmakers, and the public.

  • Calibrated process models of estuarine water quality tend to be more useful forecasting (extrapolation) tools than simpler formulations, because they tend to include a greater representation of the physics, chemistry, and biology of the physical system being simulated.

  • When model results are presented to managers, they should be accompanied by estimates of confidence levels.

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