Happy birthday, ICOS ERIC!


Today you are one year old and interestingly this reminds me of those days some 27 years ago when my first son had his first birthday. Conrad had done his first steps a few days before and this exciting time of rapid development was going to start.

There are so many things children learn, so many skills they develop during the early years of their existence. You, my dear ICOS ERIC are in the same situation, even though your “pregnancy” was 9 years instead of 9 months: you are currently developing with an exciting speed and it is a pleasure to see, support and be part of this process.

To list only a few achievement: the internal management structure has been finalized by signing the Central Facilities Agreements; the networks are becoming operational by labelling the stations; our data life cycle is well developed. Indeed, my dear ICOS you are doing your first steps…

Where will the journey continue? Parents may know that the time between the age of 1 and 4 of a toddler is sometimes difficult since the physical development runs ahead of the mental. In his famous book ‘The Human Story’ Robin Dunbar describes that the most important mental development of a child happens between four and four and a half years. Only then the clear vision of one self as an individual enables a clear communication and interaction with the surrounding community.

Translated into your development, my dear ICOS, I see an analogy to the science that is supported and enabled by ICOS. After this time with focus on the ‘physical’ development we are still going through, I expect quite soon important scientific developments in what for me is ‘the larger ICOS community’. This is the research infrastructure itself and the community of scientific users working with the data – very often via already existing global networks such as SOCAt, GAW or FLUXNET.

The strength of ICOS is the large overlap: many scientists are working e.g. as PIs in the infrastructure and scientifically with the data. Exiting results of their work have recently been presented during the second ICOS Science Conference at Helsinki. In our analogy: the brain is rapidly developing. Facilitating the corporate development of body and brain, of infrastructure and research is a strong community effort that will soon result in an even stronger ICOS mind. I am looking forward to that.

For today: Happy birthday, my dear ICOS!