Estimating space-time mean concentrations of nutrients in surface waters of variable depth

M. Knotters, D.J. Brus

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2 Citations (Scopus)


A monitoring scheme has been designed to test whether the space-time mean concentration total Nitrogen (N-total) in the surface water in the Northern Frisian Woodlands (NFW, The Netherlands) complies with standards of the European Water Framework directive. Since in statistical testing for compliance monitoring valid estimators for the mean and its variance are important, a design-based method is preferred above a model-based method. In the NFW-area the surface water depth varies in both space and time and can periodically equal zero, due to variation in precipitation and evapotranspiration. To account for this, space-time mean concentrations are estimated by the ratio of the estimated total mass of nutrient and the estimated total volume of water. The method is applied in the period from 1 April to 30 September 2008 to four hydrologically different subareas. Besides, the aim was to use the information on the spatial and temporal variance of N-total concentrations to optimize the numbers of sampling rounds and sampling locations per sampling round in future monitoring campaigns, given budgetary constraints. A bootstrap procedure was applied to account for uncertainty about the temporal and spatial variances in estimating the optimal number of sampling rounds and sampling locations. For two subareas the accuracy of the estimated space-time means can be improved by sampling more frequently at less locations (compared to the design applied in 2008), whereas for one subarea sampling less frequently at more locations increases the precision. For one subarea the sample data were rather inconclusive about the optimal sample sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberW08502
Number of pages8
JournalWater Resources Research
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • natural-resources
  • states


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