Abrupt environmental discontinuities along political boundaries often indicate differences in data reporting; these must be reconciled to construct regional databases used in integrated assessment. The figure above illustrates the collection of data about wheat production in a four-state area.
How available are the multisectoral, regional-scale databases that are needed to conduct integrated assessments?
Integrated assessment often requires analysis across large spatial and temporal scales. Anomalies or discrepancies often appear when integrated databases are being constructed to support these analyses. These discrepancies may result from differences (often undocumented) in measurement or reporting techniques, units, or data management practices.
For example, obvious discrepancies are often seen as discontinuities in environmental variables along political boundaries. More troublesome, because they are less obvious, are changes in reporting techniques, units, or data management practices over time that may mask, or give false indications of, change. Even the simple confusion between data indicating "zero" versus "no data" can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to correct. In many cases, agencies providing the individual data sets are unable to answer questions concerning relevant data gathering and management practices.
It is important that compilation, quality assurance, and documentation of integrated databases be given a high priority in integrated assessment activities.
Allison, L. J., C. T. Hunsaker, R. M. Cushman, T. W. White, and J. D. Draves. 1990. Environmental atlas of the Iowa-Kansas-Missouri-Nebraska climate-change study region. ORNL/CDIAC-33. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Scott, M. J., N. J. Rosenberg, J. A. Edmonds, R. M. Cushman, R. F. Darwin, G. W. Yohe, A. M. Liebetrau, C. T. Hunsaker, D. A. Bruns, D. L. DeAngelis, and J. M. Hales. 1990. Consequences of climatic change for the human environment. Climate Research 1:63-79.
Integrated Assessment Briefs. 1995. ORNL/M-4227. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.