Documenting measurement sensitivity and bias of field-measured parameters in water quality monitoring programs
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Measurement sensitivity and bias quality control metrics are commonly reported for water-quality parameters measured in the laboratory. Less commonly recognized is that they should also be reported for field-measured parameters. Periodic evaluation helps document data quality and can help serve as early warning if there are problems with methods or techniques that could negatively affect ability to interpret threshold values and trends over time. This study focuses on traditional assessment of bias and introduces a new method for estimating measurement sensitivity of water-quality parameters measured monthly in the field. Alternative measurement sensitivity is a new data quality indicator used to demonstrate how quantifying sensitivity at the measurement level can improve understanding the uncertainty affecting each reported data value. That, in turn, can help interpret the meaning of results from many separate data points measured in the field. In this 30-month study, pH and specific conductance consistently met, and dissolved oxygen did not always meet NPS and USGS quality control standards for bias. Evaluation of dissolved oxygen bias and sensitivity during the study provided impetus to improve calibration techniques that resulted in data that later met quality goals.
Thoma, D. P., R. J. Irwin, and P.E. Penoyer. 2011. Documenting measurement sensitivity and bias of field-measured parameters in water quality monitoring programs. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 12 p. doi: 10.1007/s10661-011-2347-5.