Ecoinformatics Conference Service, Environmental Information Management 2008

North of Ireland Coastal Monitoring Programme - QA for an operational network of moored oceanographic instruments

Adam Mellor

Last modified: 2008-08-21


An operational network of 12 remote monitoring stations around the Northern Irish coastline play a sentinel role in water quality monitoring. The programme provides near-real time, high resolution data for water quality in the coastal zone and allows the capacity for reactive management to complement routine monitoring surveys. This network has to the current day disseminated (and quality assured) data on an ad-hoc basis - data from remote in-situ moored instrumentation is rarely without flaw as influences such as fouling and drift compromise measurements. Objective near-real-time quality assurance (QA) is being developed retrospectively with consideration to the demands of policy based criteria such as the concentrations of nitrates, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll from the European water framework directive (WFD). Data will be automatically integrated with targeted QA reference measurements allowing them to be validated & filtered for rapid dissemination with quantifiable and appropriate levels of confidence.

An analysis of survey and time series data prioritises sites for continuous monitoring, and characterises the relationships between sites to give enhanced confidence in the value of fixed point monitoring with moored instrumentation. This analysis also enables the appropriate design of complimentary water quality surveys using techniques such as optimum allocation analysis (OAA).

Outputs of the moored network in addition to the obligatory monitoring requirements include projects such as the integration of the environmental data into ecosystem modelling programmes such as the SMILE model (Sustainable Mariculture in northern Irish Lough Ecosystems). Now operational, the SMILE model can estimate carrying capacities for aquaculture as well as forecasting the potential impacts from overexploitation by integrating shellfish growth, hydrodynamic and ecosystem models.