Protecting the environment is quickly becoming a leading priority for governments worldwide due to the dangers of climate change, pollution, and habitat depletion. Invasive species, poor air quality, and increasing droughts put many native species at risk, particularly in ecosystems like Hawaii, New Zealand, Alaska, and Australia. It’s no wonder that governments and nonprofit organizations are actively working to implement strategies that address these many concerns.
As you might expect, the first step to solving any problem is understanding it clearly. To do so, scientists use precise and sophisticated monitoring strategies. Although environmental monitoring is beneficial, it needs to improve quickly to address at-risk ecosystems.
Many people aren’t even aware of environmental monitoring and why it’s so important. Let’s explore why it’s necessary to address the many environmental pressures we face today.
Environmental Monitoring in Different Environments
At the very least, environmental monitoring is a set of tools, practices, and activities that characterize and assess the condition of the environment, including monitoring air, soil, water, and biochemistry.
Ecologists collect air samples from specific locations using passive or diffusive air sampling methods. The method used depends on meteorological factors such as wind and their ability to affect the number of certain air pollutants. Passive sampling does provide several benefits as the diffusion tubes often used for it are quiet, discrete, and easy to deploy.
Ecologists test air samples to measure the number of different pollutants using sensor networks, the sensor observation service, or graphic information system models. Scientists and others can query real-time environmental data from the online sensor observation service. They use air dispersion models that interpret meteorological, topographical, and emissions data, and they also use anemometers to collect wind data for analysis.
Governments and environmental groups observe pollution levels in certain regions, conduct temperature mapping, and find ways to address pollution and its causes, for example, eliminating industrial waste.
Soil, Water, and Wildlife Environmental Monitoring
Soil is a critical part of our ecosystem, and soil pollution affects our food quality, agricultural efficiency, and the availability of wildlife habitats. The environmental monitoring of soil includes measuring data related to its precise physical constituents and effectiveness in supporting life in the ecosystem.
Soil faces multiple threats to its quality, including organic material loss, erosion, salinization, acidification, slope stability problems, and decreasing biodiversity. Monitoring soil helps to get a clear picture of these different problems and create possible solutions for addressing them. Understanding soil’s physical and chemical properties also help assess potential soil toxicity due to elements like mercury, arsenic, and lead, which can be extremely harmful to the environment and have long-lasting adverse effects on humans, particularly children.
Analyzing soil also helps accomplish other goals, such as monitoring erosion and salinity. Erosion ruins wildlife habitats, reduces soil fertility, and harms waterways. It’s essential to view the ecosystem as one interconnected environment.
Monitoring water quality is also crucial since it’s a critical part of the ecosystem. Water quality can substantially affect fish populations, but it can also impact food production and wildlife habitats. Scientists analyze the chemical composition of water to see how it’s been affected by various environmental phenomena such as acid rain, halogenated hydrocarbons, and greenhouse gasses. These different chemical changes can impact wildlife by influencing animals’ drinking water and altering their habitats.
Collecting and Tracking Data
Scientists use a variety of tools, techniques, and sampling methods to collect environmental data. They are:
- judgemental sampling
- random sampling
- stratified sampling
- adaptive cluster sampling
- remote sensing
The sampling tools and strategies used will determine the kinds of data collected and how scientists will analyze it. For example, in the case of biomonitoring, animals or biological organisms are used to detect changes in the environment. For example, they use moss for measuring the change in heavy metal quantities in forests and eels to gather information on hydrogenated chemicals.
According to Dickson Data, temperature mapping is important not just for environmental monitoring but also for upholding quality assurance standards in many industries. Businesses use small electronic devices called data loggers to conduct temperature mapping by collecting and recording ecological data such as temperature, pressure, and humidity.
Improvements in Environmental Monitoring
Considering that environmental data is collected using so many different strategies and sampling methods, the most significant improvement would be to find ways to organize and utilize the information collected better.
Scientists must consider the complete picture of ecological data when analyzing and reaching conclusions. They should also do everything they can to prevent their cognitive and political biases from influencing their interpretation of environmental data.
Today, governments and scientists are taking steps to unify different kinds of environmental data, including the creation of ecological indices and temperature mapping databases. These indices use broad categories to put different sorts of environmental data into context to be analyzed impartially and used to recommend lifestyle changes to the public.
Given today’s pressing environmental problems, these improvements couldn’t come a moment too soon.