Research and monitoring efforts critical to more fully understanding the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems, including water quality, water quantity, groundwater and biological components in the NWT. The incorporation of traditional, local and western scientific knowledge in research and monitoring is important to improve the collective understanding of aquatic ecosystem health and diversity in the NWT. Aquatic ecosystem monitoring and research can also aid in monitoring and mitigating impacts and cumulative effects on NWT waters.
The difference between ‘water-related monitoring’ and ‘water-related research’ is explained below:
- Water-related monitoring includes observations of current conditions related to water quality or quantity. Monitoring reoccurs at regular intervals to understand the environmental conditions and potential trends during a longer time period.
- Water-related research can focus on answering research questions. For example, research can answer questions related to potential effects from water uses, specific aspects of water management, and identification of influences and relationships affecting water resources. Research is generally done within shorter timeframes than monitoring programs.
A range of water both research and monitoring programs and projects have been undertaken in the NWT to increase understandings of the aquatic ecosystem. These are highlighted below. Many of these programs also directly support community-based monitoring initiatives in the NWT.