Environmental monitoring is both a scientific and management imperative for effective coastal and estuarine resources research, management, and education. The establishment of monitoring programs provides for baseline studies, trend analyses, and impact assessments as related to both short-term variability and long-term change within estuarine environments. The effectiveness of these programs is dependent not only on the data collection but also on the implementation and maintenance of procedures to ensure access to high-quality data, data documentation, and derived products. Advances in information technology are improving the way resource managers and researchers can assimilate, manage, disseminate, and share environmental data and information. The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) initiative is developing an integrated national system for the United States' coastal zone built upon federal monitoring efforts and regional coastal observing systems that monitor the state and variability of the coastal waters and estuaries of the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) acknowledges the importance of long-term environmental monitoring programs and data and information dissemination via the NERRS System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP). Consistent with the IOOS initiative and in support of sound data-management and -dissemination practices, the NERRS SWMP has implemented and sustains procedures to manage the basic infrastructure and data protocol to support the assimilation and exchange of quality-controlled data, metadata, and information within the framework of NERRS sites, state coastal zone management programs, and NOAA/OCRM as well as other state and federally funded education, monitoring, and research programs.

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