Environmental condition, environmental goals, climate change, EU Water Framework Directive, national monitoring programmes, long-term data series, trends

NIVA monitors conditions and changes in aquatic environments. Distinguishing between changes that are due to natural fluctuations and those that are caused by human activity is an important challenge.

Environmental monitoring programmes are used to determine environmental conditions, decide on the need for initiatives and evaluate the effects of initiatives. NIVA is currently responsible for several large national monitoring programmes and many smaller local programmes. We are continually developing and perfecting our monitoring methods.

Environmental monitoring:

  • provides knowledge and perspectives about environmental conditions
  • produces a factual basis for determining sustainability policies, public management and commercial development and contributes to an increased focus on the environment 
  • provides data for environmental research, making it possible to detect and find ways of dealing with environmental problems
  • is necessary for the development, evaluation and follow-up of goals, countermeasures and tools in environmental  policies

NIVA monitors:

  • biological, physical and chemical parameters in watercourses and coastal areas
  • the effects of eutrophication, contaminants, acidification and physical interventions such as watercourse regulations, road construction and mining
  • the effects of climate changes on aquatic environments
  • the flow of nutrients and contaminants from rivers to the coast

Customized monitoring

Monitoring programmes are planned with respect to the objectives of the monitoring. Monitoring on a large scale, for instance the impact of acid precipitation, requires sampling from many sites with only a few samples a year from each site. On the other hand, monitoring changes at a particular site can require more frequent sampling over a long time period.

We also detect and survey new environmental contaminants through nationwide environmental monitoring initiatives.

Monitoring is also an important part of obligations set out in the EU Water Framework Directive. The goal is for Norway to achieve favourable ecological conditions in all its water resources.

Environmental information from vessels on fixed routes

NIVA has installed sensors aboard a number of ships sailing along regular routes (Ferrybox). These sensors transmit up-to-date environmental information from a large part of Norwegian fjord and ocean areas to our receiving station. Observations can be coordinated with data from environmental satellites. This sort of monitoring makes it possible to detect acute situations such as algae blooms and oil spills.



Monitoring low concentrations of environmental contaminants

NIVA has developed passive samplers; small absorbent units that can be placed in water to detect even minute concentrations of chemical compounds. Traditional water samples give you a snapshot of the  situation at a given moment, whereas passive samplers provide knowledge about the concentrations that an organism can be exposed to over a longer period of time.

Climate monitoring of freshwater

In 2010 NIVA established the first climate station for freshwater in Norway. It is located at Langtjern in Buskerud County, which is an area where natural processes have been studied for years. Data is transmitted by the cellular network in real time to NIVA's AquaMonitor portal.

Clients can access environmental data

Our clients have access to their data through the AquaMonitor portal, which is a map-based display of environmental data via the internet. NIVA's solution also enables other interested parties to view the results. 


Sondre Meland, research manager, Catchment Processes
Anders Gjørwad Hagen, research manager, Research Infrastructure
Paul Ragnar Berg, research manager, Marine Biology
Andrew King, research manager, Oceanography
Ailbhe Macken, research manager, Oceanography

Last updated 25.08.2021