Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program Advanced Monitoring Initiative

Considerable costs have been incurred in environmental studies of Alaska waters, in this case the Beaufort Sea, to assess background conditions to assist in monitoring impacts from oil and gas resource development. The principal datasets used in the study are from the U.S. Department of Interior Mineral Management Environmental Studies Program that supports the offshore oil and gas-leasing program of the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI) in pursuit of national energy policies. These studies are typically targeted studies designed to provide MMS with information to monitor and assess potential impacts of oil and gas development. While these studies are designed to meeting MMS project needs, sampling methodologies and resultant datasets are applicable to addressing regional scale issues or questions raised by non-governmental groups and federal/state agencies. Some of these questions are:

  • How is the regional environment changing?
  • Are the problems faced getting better or worse?
  • Where are problems located?
  • Are government or private programs dealing effectively with these problems?
  • Can results be extrapolated to the regional resource population to estimate current status, trends, and changes in select indicators with known confidence?
  • Are there associations between select indicators of natural and human stresses and indicators of the condition of ecological resource?

As discussed in the report, probabilistic survey sampling can provide reliable, unbiased estimates of regional ecological condition. The GRTS design used for the probabilistic sampling in the present study is one of a number of probabilistic designs and provides spatially-balanced samples and unbiased estimates for sampling large regions. The use of targeted (fixed) vs. probabilistic (random) designs depends on the goals of each project with fixed stations providing greater power but spatially-limited inferences. Long-term sampling of fixed locations provides the means to detect long-term environmental change and should be a focus of local sampling but the range of inferences are limited to the chosen locations whereas random sites. Difficulties arise when compiling data from various sampling designs to gain insights into regional trends. Comparisons of targeted and probabilistic survey sampling documented that regional extrapolation of non-probabilistic results cannot provide unbiased estimates of regional condition. Our attempt to use the historic datasets for this region to provide a methodology for a reasonable post hoc survey analysis, while having some success, clearly indicated the need for a long-term reasoned multi-faceted monitoring effort.

2009 AMI Presentation (pdf)

Advanced Monitoring Initiative Arctic Coastal Integrated and Comprehensive Data Mining and Assessment Project Quality Assurance Project Plan (pdf)

2011 AMI Presentation (pdf)

AMI Executive Summary (pdf)

Final AMI Report (pdf)