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Decisions Through Data Home


Statistics: Decisions Through Data

UNIT 14: Save the Bay

Summary of the Video

Beautiful Chesapeake Bay is described, as is the stress caused by the large human population on its shores and the resulting industrial pollution, farm runoff, and sewage plant outflows. Data, carefully produced and analyzed, can monitor the Bay's condition and show whether new environmental regulations are having an effect.

We see researchers on board a ship collecting bottom mud from systematically chosen locations, straining out the living organisms, and counting and classifying them. Biology, ecology, and statistics work together. The project statistician displays on his workstation the relation between the width and weight of a species of clam.
Change over time and variation over different locations within the Bay mean that the environmental researchers must study complex relationships. A biologist describes the need to see long-term trends and the effects of human interference behind the large amount of natural variation. Many important quantities, like the salt content of the water, vary with the seasons. The research ship measures salinity and dissolved oxygen with an electronic probe, while the biologists explain the importance of these quantities to life in the Bay. The statistician works to remove the regular seasonal variation and display the long-term trends in graphical form.

New environmental regulations are improving the condition of the Bay. Collection of data and statistical study of this complex natural system will continue to improve our understanding and help save the Bay.

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