Main results achieved
The Readiness of ICOS for Necessities of Integrated Global Observations (RINGO) has supported the strategic goal of scientific readiness in manifold ways. It provided e.g. scientific-technical concepts for requirements of a fossil fuel observation system, for the monitoring of land-ocean carbon fluxes at pan-European scale, for standardised biomass observations in ICOS by means of ground LIDAR. These concept developments (mainly in Work Package 1 and Work Package 3) required in a first step thorough scientific analyses or additional experiments. The resulting scientific progress has strengthened the science within and around ICOS but has an impact beyond ICOS: it is the base for societal action to mitigate climate change. The fossil fuel observation system – as one example – has proven its reliability based on the scientific experiments made in RINGO and can now be applied in city observatories and become part of the monitoring and verification support system envisaged by the European Union.
The technological readiness is the next step in the innovation of the ICOS value chain leading finally to data and services for climate action. Once the scientific background has been thoroughly explored, the development of technical solutions for standardised, high-precision observations become next challenges for the implementation (mainly in WP3 and partly in WP1). Technical handbooks or measurement protocols e.g. for ICOS flask sampling, for high accuracy in situ vertical profile measurements, for ATC-conform atmospheric measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) (and methane CH4) on Ships of Opportunity (SOOP) lines, for non-CO2 eddy covariance measurements have been provided by RINGO. They will strengthen the quality of ICOS data products.
The ICOS data life cycle needs readiness for optimising the internal data flow and the distribution of the data according to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable) principles. The ICOS-internal data flow has been facing a challenge that is probably occurring in many distributed research infrastructures that have been developed out of long existing scientific communities: each domain has its own sophisticated metadata and data collection system that all have developed over the latest decennia and contain precious experience and expertise. In order to integrate them they need to agree on exchange mechanisms and the internal standards to exchange and harmonise this metadata at the central repository: the ICOS data type-registry and unified meta-database, where it is integrated as rich metadata into the ontology based triple store and exposed to the users through machine to machine and user interfaces (WP4). Overall, RINGO strengthened the internal cooperation between Thematic Centres and Carbon Portal and increased the quality and efficiency of ICOS-internal data flows. It increased the findability and scientific usage of ICOS data and with that the overall FAIRness of ICOS data.
RINGO has taken up the challenge of ICOS being a distributed research infrastructure producing knowledge of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and for that needing good geographical coverage by station networks that are well distributed over the area of interest on one hand and being an administrative entity where a membership by countries in ICOS ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) is a prerequisite for European Union countries for integrating their stations into the ICOS Networks on the other. The work towards geographical readiness (mainly in WP2) comprised nine candidate countries potentially joining ICOS and with that increase the spatial coverage. The ICOS Handbook
became an important tool to introduce ICOS to national stakeholder. One of the countries (Spain) joined ICOS by 1. January 2021
. Several other countries may follow during the next two years. In addition, RINGO supported strategies for associate stations outside the EU/the ICOS member countries to the network.
RINGO supported many ICOS activities at the international level (Mainly in WP5). The ICOS Ocean and Ecosystem Thematic Centres fostered important steps in the further implementation of the global data bases the GLobal Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the Surface Ocean CO₂ Atlas (SOCAT) in ocean domain and FLUXNET in ecosystem domain.
Organisational readiness has not explicitly mentioned in the proposal. Nevertheless, RINGO paved the way for ICOS into its long-term sustainability. Based on these efforts, it was possible to present a five-year action plan for the second commitment period (2020–2024) to the General Assembly in May 2019. In November 2019 the General Assembly decided a funding scheme for the period 2020–2024. All members and observers renewed their commitment for ICOS.
Progress beyond the state of the art and impacts
RINGO also provided an excellent example of data readiness boosting science by providing consistent historical data sets in response to the severe drought episode that occurred during spring and summer 2018 in Europe. A task force analysed the impact of this extreme climatic event on the carbon cycle. To support this unique scientific opportunity an effort was made to collect all of the available data sets from Europe and provide a much larger data set enabling analyses of the year 2018 in its historical context. The drought initiative resulted in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B with 17 scientific publications
The ICOS flask sampling protocol
is an excellent example for demonstrating the multi-dimensional impact of RINGO on ICOS. Flask sampling is an important part of the ICOS atmosphere station network: The funding by RINGO enabled a scientific study that has been based on improved data and modelling services to estimate the origin of the air masses arriving at a tower at a certain time. An algorithm was introduced to support the decision whether a flask sample should be analysed for radiocarbon dioxide (14
) or not. The resulting technological innovation will increase the information on fossil fuel CO2
emissions in the area observed by the ICOS atmosphere network.
By increasing the readiness of ICOS, the RINGO project had also severe impact on larger European endeavours, namely the Copernicus monitoring and verification support (MVS) system for CO2 and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). Optimised observational technologies and data streams have enabled ICOS to play a pivotal role in the design and preparation of the MVS system.
RINGO enabled ICOS to share its experience on data within the environmental cluster of research infrastructures (ENVRI), particularly within the ENVRI-FAIR project. On the long run, ICOS and ENVRI will be enabled to play a key role in the further development of the EOSC.