Environment statistics is the application of statistical methods to environmental science. It covers procedures for dealing with questions concerning both the natural environment in its undisturbed state and the interaction of humanity with the environment. Thus weather, climate, air and water quality are included, as are studies of plant and animal populations.
The United Nations Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES) defines the scope of environment statistics as follows: The scope of environment statistics covers biophysical aspects of the environment and those aspects of the socio-economic system that directly influence and interact with the environment. The scope of environment, social and economic statistics overlap. It is not easy – or necessary – to draw a clear line dividing these areas. Social and economic statistics that describe processes or activities with a direct impact on, or direct interaction with, the environment are used widely in environment statistics. They are within the scope of the FDES.
Sources of data for environmental statistics are varied and include: surveys related to human populations and the environment, records from agencies managing environmental resources, maps and images, equipment used to examine the environment, and research studies around the world. A primary component of the data is direct observation, although most environmental statistics use a variety of sources.
Environmental statistics covers a number of types of study:
- Baseline studies to document the present state of an environment to provide background in case of unknown changes in the future;
- Targeted studies to describe the likely impact of changes being planned or of accidental occurrences;
- Regular monitoring to attempt to detect changes in the environment.
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