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Environmental Assessment

To make it easier to detect problems in the environment, to contribute with scientific evidence, and to follow on measures, we collect, store, quality assure, and make available water chemistry and biological data for lakes and watercourses.

Sampling equipment from boat. Photo.

We perform our environmental monitoring and assessment when we collect material through environmental monitoring, process, and interpret it. To a large extent, environmental objectives, directives, and conventions govern what we monitor. Much of our work is linked to the global sustainability goals.

Through our regular sampling, we monitor variables that tell us about the state of the water. The samples are analysed in our ackredited laboratories, which then provide the data to the data host (which also happens to be us in this case). The data is then available to everyone, but is mainly used by other researchers and analysts. When we assess and analyse the data, the environmental analysis takes place and we can, for example, check whether the environmental objectives are being met.

Methodical data collection provides a scientific basis for understanding environmental change. For example, we have been sampling Lake Mälaren for almost 60 years. The length of our measurement series is in many cases unique.

We also report our data internationally to, for example, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) and the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM). Much of the reporting takes done through SLU's participation in the SMED consortium.

Two persons standing in stream to sample. Photo.

Lakes and watercourses

There is a well-developed system for monitoring Sweden's environmental status. Responsibility and performance are distributed among several actors. Our (the department’s) mission focuses on Swedish lakes and watercourses.

Environmental monitoring is organised in different areas with different focuses.

For freshwater, there is a particular focus on acidification, eutrophication, and environmental toxins. We measure in both affected and unaffected areas to investigate the impact of environmentally harmful activities.

The Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment contributes expertise to several different areas of environmental monitoring, both internationally, nationally, and regionally. SLU works with environmental analysis in twelve so-called programs, of which the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment contributes in particular to the following five:

Nationell miljöövervakning

The national environmental monitoring is divided into several subgroups, intended to make it easy to gain an insight and overview of the state of the Swedish environment.

At our department, we provide expertise within the following sub-programmes:

Regional environmental monitoring

The regional and local environmental ­monitoring is commissioned by different stakeholders and can serve several purposes.

Currently we are performing the monitoring of water chemistry and some biological parameters in the lakes Vänern and Mälaren. We do also perform regional monitoring in several lakes and water courses on behalf of different county boards.

Within regional environmental monitoring, work is sometimes coordinated between several different actors such as various county administrative boards or other authorities. One example is the monitoring of benthic diatoms in water courses (web page in Swedish) which we perform.


We report on the status of the waters we investigate. The results are our scientific contribution to Swedish and international environmental monitoring. Often the results are presented in reports.


The Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment has staff who focus their expertise on pesticides in the environment. Environmental monitoring of pesticides aims to follow the occurrence and trends of plant protection products in the environment, focusing on surface and groundwater in agricultural areas. Measurements are also made in sediment, air, and precipitation.

Integrated environmental monitoring

The integrated environmental monitoring is carried out in dedicated natural ecosystems. The monitoring is aimed at creating reliable time series that detail processes in a limited number of areas covering different deposition and climate gradients across the country. Large-scale impacts on ecosystems are also studied.

Published: 04 March 2024 - Page editor: vattenmiljo-webb@slu.se