The network of ICOS Ecosystem stations is an instrumentation setup, usually on a tower, that measures the fluxes of greenhouse gases, as well as living and non-living components and drivers responsible for the exchange of greenhouse gases, water and energy between ecosystems and the atmosphere. Ecosystems typically consist of different types of forests, wetlands, croplands, grasslands, agricultural areas, heatlands, lakes or cities. The location of a station represents the local surface where soil, vegetation and environmental conditions differ. It is important to observe greenhouse gases in a variety of ecosystems in order to know how they react in a changing climate.
At each of the current 81 ecosystem stations, a number of scientists, researchers, technicians and other staff members from the national partner institutions of ICOS work in variable and often challenging conditions. Each station is managed by a Principal Investigator. Ecosystem stations' Principal Investigators form together the Ecosystem Monitoring Station Assembly (MSA) to discuss, develop and improve the scientific and technical bases of the observations performed at the ecosystem stations.
All measurements at the ecosystem stations are strongly standardised, utilising similar or the same methodologies and equipment summarised in the ‘ETC instructions & guidelines’ and published in a series of papers. The ICOS standards cover, for example, how and when to perform the measurements, such as taking samples or reading a result, how and when the equipment needs to be calibrated, and how data and quality are managed. All labelled stations and station types also have the same instrumentation installed in the same way, and use the same procedures for submitting the data to the Carbon Portal and the Thematic Centre.
The ICOS ecosystem stations observations also comply with the monitoring principles of the Global Climate Observation System (GCOS) and Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS).
All data collected at the Ecosystem stations are processed and quality controlled by the Ecosystem Thematic Centre.
ICOS ecosystem stations network
The map shows where the ICOS ecosystem stations are located.