The Horizon 2020 VERIFY project was kicked off in Brussels on February 13–15, 2018. Close to 80 participants representing 37 partners from 14 countries attended the meeting. VERIFY is an ambitious four-year project that aims to provide a pre-operational observation-based system for monitoring and verification of greenhouse gases (GHGs). ICOS will be active in three of the nine work packages.
The rationale behind the project is to deliver tools to improve the reporting of the national GHG emissions required by international commitments like the Paris Agreement. This reporting is currently done at country level and submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that are mandatory for developed countries and voluntary for others. The reporting bodies maintain an inventory of emissions mostly based on statistical data of activities in different sectors (industry, energy, agriculture…).
In complementarity to this so-called bottom-up approach, the top-down approach consists in observing atmospheric GHGs to provide estimates relying on a combination of techniques: satellite observations, in situ measurements, land fluxes, and so on. These can then be fed into advanced models using tracer transport inversions to provide valuable comparisons to the inventories. VERIFY proposes to quantify more accurately carbon stocks and fluxes across the EU for the main GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Special effort will be made to separate the anthropogenic and natural components of the GHGs.
One of the strong assets of VERIFY is to bring together both communities (agencies responsible for national inventories and climate-modelers together with scientists in charge of GHG observations) in order to improve the reporting. This better knowledge of GHG budgets will be used to deliver policy-relevant information in order to track progress of the EU mitigation efforts.
The role of ICOS in the VERIFY project will be manifold. Apart from providing its network of measurement stations and the data thereof, ICOS will contribute to the study of terrestrial CO2 sources and sinks. Protocols and “Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable” (FAIR) principles of ICOS data will also be used in the project. An essential part of ICOS’ role will be to disseminate the results of the project to, and ensure coordination with, the main international actors, such as World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the UNFCCC, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).