International cooperation is one of the key strategic areas of ICOS. The position ICOS has achieved as the European reference for the monitoring of greenhouse gases (GHGs) raises interest among similar infrastructures, in Europe and globally. We are actively extending our network of partners, to increase our impact and disseminate our practices of long-standing, highly standardised and openly available data.
ICOS in Europe
ICOS is the pillar of the European greenhouse gas observations. Multiple dimensions of climate change require a vast network of complementary actors, all contributing to the common Grand Challenge. Through instruments like the legal status of European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), Europe has been a fertile ground for the development of Research Infrastructures (RIs). In Europe, ICOS is a major contribution to the European Research Area and a part of the European portfolio of long-term undertakings in excellent science and innovation. Europe is thus a natural continent for international cooperation activities reinforcing the position of ICOS.
Developing our measurement network
The strength of the ICOS network relies partly on the geographical area it covers. The larger the network, the more relevant the data collected for the global users, e.g. those involved in complex climate modeling. ICOS works actively towards European countries that are not yet part of the Research Infrastructure in order to enlarge the membership in ICOS ERIC and the coverage of the network.
ICOS entered the Roadmap of Research Infrastructures established by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in 2006. In 2016, it became an ESFRI Landmark and was one of the first RIs “with global outreach” evaluated according to the new Lifecycle Approach developed by ESFRI in its pilot periodic review of landmarks.
Contributing to a European monitoring and verification support capacity
The crucial role of ICOS has been acknowledged by the European Commission and Copernicus (the European Earth Observation Programme) in their plan to build an "Operational Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions Monitoring & Verification Support Capacity", the so-called Green Report, in the coming years. This capacity will integrate ground-based and remote-sensing systems together with modeling and policy support. ICOS will provide crucial elements for this endeavor with its in situ observational data. The efforts made in the Verifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions (VERIFY) project will also help the European Union to improve its annual reporting of GHG emissions on the continent.
Collaborating in the ENVRI Community
More than 20 Research Infrastructures in the field of environmental sciences cooperate in the ENVRI framework. As the coordinator of the ENVRIPLUS project (2005–2019), ICOS has been instrumental in building the ENVRI Community which has become a place for common efforts towards collaborating activities (harmonisation, standardisation, intercalibration…), as well as for the sharing of measurement protocols.
Global challenges require global actions. ICOS operates mainly in Europe, but partnerships with similar major Research Infrastructures outside of the European Union are essential to ICOS. They can be bilateral or multilateral agreements, but they also occur through the provision of ICOS data to the main data integration initiatives globally, such as the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), FLUXNET, the Surface Ocean CO₂ Atlas (SOCAT) and the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP). ICOS is also an observer in several global cooperation frameworks of major importance for climate science and policy.
Contributing to the work of UNFCCC
ICOS is an Observer Intergovernmental Organization (IGO) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention aims to reach global consensus on actions to mitigate and to adapt to climate change as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The data provided by ICOS with its ground-based observations are key elements for the knowledge that informs the countries, parties to the Paris Agreement. By actively taking part in activities dedicated to policy-makers, ICOS advocates for decisions made based on the best available scientific knowledge.
Strengthening international working groups
ICOS has a prominent role in some of the working groups of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) which assesses the status of global climate observations and produces guidance for their improvement. It is also a participating organisation to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and is engaged in cooperation activities with the main actors worldwide, such as NOOA, TERN, NEON, NIES and SAEON.
Supporting less developed regions
Through its international cooperation activities, ICOS aims to support the construction of GHG observation networks in less developed regions of the world. One example of such collaborations is the Supporting EU-African Cooperation on Research Infrastructures for Food Security and Greenhouse Gas Observations (SEACRIFOG) project. The objective is to design the concept of a pan-African Research Infrastructure for a greenhouse gas monitoring system adapted to the needs of the African countries.