What is Environmental Monitoring?
Sep 08 2014
The planet is developing an increasing sense of environmental awareness and with it has emerged a new form of assessment – environmental monitoring. It’s a bit of a buzzword in the sustainability sphere and is used to describe the various processes, tests and investigations that are carried out in order to monitor the state of the environment, its natural changes and the impact that any human activity could have on its quality. But what exactly does environmental monitoring involve and where is it applied? Let’s take a look…
What is the purpose of environmental monitoring?
At its core, environmental monitoring is designed to help us understand the natural environment and protect it from any negative outcomes of human activity. The process is an integral part of environmental impact assessments and results can directly determine whether or not projects are given the all clear. Environmental monitoring assessments can involve establishing baseline quality, uncovering environmental trends, identifying any variations, determining the success of projects and confirming whether or not environmental goals have been met.
Environmental monitoring is also performed in critical environments, such as cleanrooms. This article, How Environmental Monitoring Equipment Can Reduce the Likelihood of Contaminations, looks into this topic further. On occasion, environmental measurements are required, but the location prevents power supply and signal wires to and from the sensors difficult. In these circumstances, a wireless connection is required. For more information on this topic read: Evolution in Environmental Monitoring and Added Value of Wireless Data Transmission,
What do environmental monitoring specialists look at?
In general, environmental monitoring specialists focus on four major areas – air, soil, water and biota. Read on for a better understanding of these areas and why they are so important:
Air quality monitoring
Air pollution is a growing concern in both developed and non-developed countries across the globe. So much so that the EU has even introduced air pollution standards that it expects all its member states to meet. Not only does polluted air affect the health of the planet, but it also has detrimental consequences for the wellbeing of the population. As air pollution concentration is heavily influenced by the wind, anemometer data is almost always taken into account when carrying out environmental monitoring of air quality. Topography is also considered as natural landscape features such as valleys and mountain ranges can hinder the process of lateral atmospheric mixing. When combined with inversion triggered atmospheric mixing, this can lead to abnormally high levels of air pollution.
Soil quality monitoring
Farming is an integral part of the world’s food production while the regeneration of forests and jungles is central to keeping the air clean and free of CO2. As such, a large number of environmental monitoring projects shine the spotlight on soil quality. This includes looking at factors such as erosion, soil contamination and salt levels.
Water quality monitoring
Gathering and analysing information on water quality is an essential part of making sure lakes, rivers, oceans, estuaries and other bodies of water are safe and sanitary. Chemical condition is of key importance, with specialists focussing on the presence of oxygen, nutrients, oils, pesticides and metals. Physical conditions such as flow, temperature, sediments and erosion are taken into account while biological measurements of plant and animal life is also used to determine quality.
As the world continues to develop and expand, environmental monitoring has become an essential part of making sure that the planet stays safe, healthy and dynamic.
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