We work actively towards European countries that are not yet part of the Research Infrastructure in order to enlarge the membership in ICOS and the coverage of the network. The larger the network, the more relevant the data collected for the global users, e.g. those involved in complex climate modeling.
ICOS member countries currently include Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Switzerland has an Observer status of ICOS.
All the main benefits of being a part of ICOS are summarised below.
Strengthening the scientific communities
ICOS is engaged in enhancing the readiness of scientific communities to tackle the current pressing climate change-related challenges by organising science events that include, for example, a biannual ICOS Science Conference. In 2019, ICOS took the initiative of forming a drought task force to address the 2018 extreme drought event in Europe. This task force rapidly compiled relevant datasets and the analyses were discussed openly among the wider science community at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2019. The initiative will result in a special issue with 14 papers in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B journal.
Advancing the standardisation and curation of data
ICOS has developed a broad range of standardisation protocols in order to ensure the highest observational standards for each ICOS station. One component of this standardisation for ICOS Atmosphere measurements is that the stations are centrally served with reference gases. The protocols are implemented during the ICOS station labelling process. This guarantees that all ICOS stations collect data that meet the agreed-upon quality requirements. By going through the labelling procedure, the ICOS stations increase their reliability, participate in a near-real-time (NRT) data flow via the Carbon Portal and benefit from the curation and dissemination of the data.
Guidance, training and knowledge exchange
The ICOS Central Facilities (CFs) and Carbon Portal provide trainings, for example for stations’ Principal Investigators, managers and technicians on any necessary issues. The aim is to stimulate the better use of ICOS-certified instruments and involve station staff in working groups for protocol development. Training also acts as a platform for exchanging ideas and knowledge on cutting-edge innovations and technologies related to the ICOS RI.
ICOS supports its partners to apply for multi-disciplinary consortium projects by providing timely information on the financial and administrative process as well as on scientific and technical prerequisites and developments. For example, ICOS partners have been very successful in getting funded by EU Horizon 2020 projects. All ongoing ICOS projects are listed in Appendices.
Increasing international scientific networking
ICOS is well connected to European and global networks that are in charge of coordinating greenhouse gas observational activities or collecting and curating the data. Its voice is increasingly being acknowledged in international forums. ICOS has, for example, established a deep connection to domain-wise global data-integration efforts such as FLUXNET, SOCAT and GAW. During the past years, ICOS has become a respected and active participant in the advocacy work of climate change policy and management carried out in international organisations, such as the SBSTA of the UNFCCC. In 2019, ICOS became an observing Intergovernmental Organization to UNFCCC and organised its first official side-event at the COP25 meeting in Madrid.
Technology and innovation
ICOS’ effectiveness in unifying the European climate science field has already had effects on technology and innovation. The wider the ICOS network is, the bigger its impact on technology and innovation. ICOS is a single large procurer with high demands. Its industrial partners indicate that high ICOS standards drive them to develop new or improved measurement methods and hardware innovations and to increase their product quality. Suppliers of sensors and measurement instrumentation mention that having ICOS as their client counts as a quality certificate.