Switzerland strengthens climate research by becoming a Member of ICOS

29 June 2023
picture of the ICOS station Davos from above

After 10 years as an Observer, Switzerland has now become a full Member of ICOS. The membership required a particular decision by the Swiss parliament to allow membership in an EU organisation such as ICOS. Only five other ERICs were given the same status. The Swiss application was accepted at the ICOS General Assembly in May 2023. With full membership, ICOS Switzerland will get voting rights in the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of ICOS.

Switzerland has been an Observer in ICOS since the very beginning of the research infrastructure in 2013. In April 2022, the Federal Council had submitted the ERIC Dispatch to the Parliament requesting Switzerland's participation in six European research infrastructure networks. With this decision, the Swiss parliament also voted for the change from ICOS Observer to ICOS Member in December 2022, which paved the way for the request to the General Assembly.

ICOS was amongst the first six ERICs where this request was made, and we are really glad to now become a full member of ICOS ERIC. This membership formalizes the Swiss commitment to ICOS’s activities and emphasizes the efforts of the research community and institutions supporting it”, says Martina Hirayama, head of SERI (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation) which also sends Switzerland’s delegate to the ICOS General Assembly (Maarten Lupker).

Switzerland's ICOS stations
Switzerland currently consists of one Atmosphere station (Jungfraujoch, on the left) and one Ecosystem station (Davos, on the right).  

ICOS Switzerland currently consists of one Atmosphere and one Ecosystem station, both unique in terms of their geographical location, site history and relevance for national and international research. Jungfraujoch, located at 3,580 metres above sea level, is the highest, permanently manned research station in Europe, and the highest measurement station in the ICOS network. The Davos station (1639 metres above sea level) is the only subalpine spruce forest within ICOS, and it is one of the oldest ecosystem flux sites globally. Since the Alpine region will be strongly affected by climate change, information and accurate data from this region is crucial. The labelling process for Switzerland’s first urban ICOS station in Basel (264 metres above sea level), which has one of the longest urban CO2 flux records worldwide, is underway. Thus, Switzerland, with its exceptional geographic location in the central part of the Alps and its measurement stations, is an outstanding node within the ICOS RI network.

”Given the current, rather complex situation of Switzerland within the European research arena, becoming a member of ICOS is a great success for the whole ICOS Switzerland consortium. We see this as an appreciation for the large efforts we have done in the past, as part of the ICOS community, from its preparatory phase in 2008, the labeling of Jungfraujoch and Davos in 2018 and 2019, to our continuing commitment to maintain the high standards of our ICOS stations in Switzerland,”, says Nina Buchmann, Focal Point of ICOS Switzerland.

The ICOS Switzerland consortium consists of project members from six Swiss research institutions (ETH Zurich, Empa, WSL, University of Bern, University of Basel, and MeteoSwiss). ICOS Switzerland has been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, in-house contributions, and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation since 2013.

Watch a video of the ICOS station Davos below. 

Film by Artan Hajrullahu and Sophie Graf (ETH Zurich), with footage taken in summer by Matthias Paintner.