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Arctic Coastal Integrated and Comprehensive Data Mining and Assessment Project

Project Leads and Affiliations:

Dixon Landers, EPA/Office of Research and Development
Gretchen Hayslip, EPA Region X

Key Collaborators:

Douglas H. Dasher, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
John K. Kelley, Sathy Naidu, Stephen Jewette and Arny Blanchard, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Tony Olsen, EPA/Office of Research and Development

Project Abstract Written: October 2005

Project Timeframe: 2006 - 2008

Project Summary:

This project assesses the usability of historic long-term environmental datasets for conducting post hoc Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) assessments. This unique opportunity can improve environmental health decision making, as this data has not been assessed and integrated into either EPA's or the State of Alaska's water body assessments. Addressing this data gap and using EMAP assessment methods helps fulfill a key part of the State of Alaska's long term Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Strategy that guides DEC's stewardship of Alaska's coastal waters. This project directly benefits the State of Alaska in its 305b reporting by filling in a significant data gap, as this historic data set has not been available for integration into past water body assessments. Incorporating these data into STORET and the post hoc EMAP assessments are major tangible products directly benefiting resource management decisions within DEC, EPA and other agencies. The goal is to get resource data, information, and models to decision-makers so they can make informed decisions with high levels of knowledge in the near-term.

A post hoc EMAP assessment offers resource manager's information to help apply adaptive management techniques to protecting environmental resources. With EMAP assessments just starting in Alaska, it will be years before resource managers can use "new" EMAP data to understand trends and changes in status over time. Can the process be "jump started" by using existing environmental datasets? Numerous marine environmental datasets have been collected over the past 30 years by various agencies in monitoring the oil and gas development activities on Alaska's North Slope. These can be examined to determine the feasibility of conducting post hoc EMAP assessments in this region. Oil and gas are important issues not only to Alaska, but the Nation, local and regional governments and tribal nations. Over the last 30 years Alaskans have distinguished themselves by using advanced technology to make decisions over land and waters that approach the size of the continental Unites States. A successful pilot project concept offers scalability and transferability to other regions in the United States that have significant existing environmental data sets that have not been utilized by EPA for EMAP status and trends assessment. DEC, EPA and University of Alaska members have established strong effective collaborations on past and current EMAP projects and will do so for this project.

Pilot project progress will be tracked at the major start and end points shown in the timeline (III) by the EPA project managers in close consultation with the DEC project lead. If this pilot project is successful, and we believe it will be, the approach can be applied to helping address a wider national mandate stated in EPA's Strategic Plan, sub-objective 2.2.2 as: "by 2008, prevent water pollution and protect coastal and ocean systems to improve national and regional coastal aquatic ecosystem health by at least 0.2 points on the 'good/fair/poor' scale of the National Coastal Condition Report". Meeting this sub-objective requires completion of the EPA revised National Coastal Condition report, which remains significantly incomplete without assessing Alaska's coastline, which contains over 50% of the nation's coastline. In addition, this work will help improve the State of Alaska's technical design of the first EMAP coastal assessment to be conducted in an Arctic Region, and provide the heretofore mentioned near-term data and information to supply decision support systems and decision making that is the focal point of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GOESS) and the US Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) Near Term Opportunities (NTOs) and thrust. In particular, this proposal addresses USGEO NTOs including sea level, Global Land Observations, Data Management, Disasters and other topics.

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