Director’s Corner - Ambitions


During the last weeks, the ICOS Community had two project-related events that have severe impact on our strategy. We kicked off a new Horizon 2020 project to further develop our Research Infrastructure entitled ‘Readiness of ICOS for Necessities of Integrated Global Observations’ (RINGO). Readiness means in this context that ICOS has to prepare itself strategically for future observational demands coming from different levels - from UNFCCC, but also from national and sub-national levels. In addition, we participated in a project proposal “Observation-based System for Monitoring and Verification of Greenhouse Gases” (VERIFY) that aims to further develop transparent methods based on independent observations in support of inventories that rely only on statistical data. We expect a growing demand on reliable observations, new technologies and knowledge generating approaches during the next years. To record the future requirements for a global observation system of greenhouse gases will be the guiding principle for developing ICOS’ future strategy. This is challenging and ambitious but absolutely necessary since standardised high-precision observations of greenhouse gases enable scientists to support the societies in their efforts to mitigate climate change. Through observations ICOS aims to provide knowledge on how the societies have succeeded in reducing their greenhouse emissions and how the emissions are regionally distributed.

GEO Werner and Phil
Werner Kutsch (ICOS) and Phil DeCola (IG3IS) in discussion at the GEO Plenary

ICOS cooperates internationally to provide comprehensive information on the Earth’s climate system. Our activities are a European contribution to the Global Climate Observation System (GCOS), a joint undertaking of UN and science Organisations.  GCOS has defined essential variables to address the total climate system. Through GCOS vital and continuous support to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is provided.

ICOS is also participating organization in the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) and actively supports the GEO Initiative on Carbon and Greenhouse Gases (GEO-C) and the Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System (IG3IS) developed by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The two missions meet the demand for comprehensive Earth observation. Through GEO-C, IG3IS and the H2020 projects RISCAPE and SEACRIFOG we are deepening our connections to Research Infrastructures in other regions. We are doing this with a special focus on African countries and actively share our technical experiences.

Sometimes you can feel lost in this complex landscape of organisations, ambitions and people. What’s important? Where should we be present? How does this or that initiative influence ICOS? Who is expecting what? Therefore, we have now started to prepare a strategic plan that will be thoroughly developed throughout the next months and continuously updated during the lifetime of the projects mentioned before. This plan should develop a common understanding in the ICOS community about the future developments. It may also support the national ICOS communities in their societal activities. I suppose the discussions about the further strategy of ICOS will become agile once we have finalized the station labelling. The story goes on, life is a construction area…