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Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 81-86, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-81-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Review article
16 Jan 2018
The National Eutrophication Survey: lake characteristics and historical nutrient concentrations
Joseph Stachelek1, Chanse Ford2, Dustin Kincaid3,6, Katelyn King1, Heather Miller4, and Ryan Nagelkirk5 1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
3Department of Integrative Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
4Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
5Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
6W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI, USA
Abstract. Historical ecological surveys serve as a baseline and provide context for contemporary research, yet many of these records are not preserved in a way that ensures their long-term usability. The National Eutrophication Survey (NES) database is currently only available as scans of the original reports (PDF files) with no embedded character information. This limits its searchability, machine readability, and the ability of current and future scientists to systematically evaluate its contents. The NES data were collected by the US Environmental Protection Agency between 1972 and 1975 as part of an effort to investigate eutrophication in freshwater lakes and reservoirs. Although several studies have manually transcribed small portions of the database in support of specific studies, there have been no systematic attempts to transcribe and preserve the database in its entirety. Here we use a combination of automated optical character recognition and manual quality assurance procedures to make these data available for analysis. The performance of the optical character recognition protocol was found to be linked to variation in the quality (clarity) of the original documents. For each of the four archival scanned reports, our quality assurance protocol found an error rate between 5.9 and 17 %. The goal of our approach was to strike a balance between efficiency and data quality by combining entry of data by hand with digital transcription technologies. The finished database contains information on the physical characteristics, hydrology, and water quality of about 800 lakes in the contiguous US (Stachelek et al.(2017), https://doi.org/10.5063/F1639MVD). Ultimately, this database could be combined with more recent studies to generate meta-analyses of water quality trends and spatial variation across the continental US.

Citation: Stachelek, J., Ford, C., Kincaid, D., King, K., Miller, H., and Nagelkirk, R.: The National Eutrophication Survey: lake characteristics and historical nutrient concentrations, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 81-86, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-81-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Here we report the results of an effort to fully transcribe the National Eutrophication Survey database containing water quality data collected by the United States Environmental Protection Agency between 1972 and 1975 as part of an effort to investigate nutrient loading in freshwater lakes and reservoirs. The transcribed database contains information on the physical characteristics, hydrology, and water quality of about 800 lakes in the contiguous United States.
Here we report the results of an effort to fully transcribe the National Eutrophication Survey...
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