Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) supports science and policy making towards climate neutrality | Flanders Marine Institute

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Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) supports science and policy making towards climate neutrality

Added on 2021-10-21
Flanders and VLIZ help building the great observation and information system of ICOS, that monitors all flows of greenhouse gases between atmosphere, land and ocean. The rapidly available and reliable data from 140 monitoring stations in 13 European countries now supports science and society in their efforts to become climate neutral.

Photo: ICOS | Konsta Punkka

The increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing our climate to warm at an alarming rate. The consequent changes are unprecedented, and difficult to predict due to the complexity of the Earth system.  While we know that half of the carbon emissions released to the atmosphere by fossil fuel usage are re-captured by the ocean and land ecosystems, we still lack knowledge when it comes to the exact size, nature and stabilities of these carbon sinks and how these will be affected by climate change. How these sinks operate in detail, and if they indeed continue to work is vital information for societies are deciding on pathways to climate neutrality.

“The best way to know the current status of the Earth, is to measure it continuously and for decades to be able see changes in the nature. We also need to provide that information fast enough to support decision making,” says Jouni Heiskanen, the first author of the recent article describing the purpose and operation of the ICOS research infrastructure. Heiskanen is a former Senior Science Integration and Liaison Officer at ICOS Head Office, and currently a Director of Biological Research Stations at University of Helsinki. The University of Antwerp and VLIZ contributed to the article in the Bulletin of American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

Heiskanen et al. (2021). The Integrated Carbon Observation System in Europe. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc.: 1-54. | download made availble via the Open Marine Archive of the VLIZ library.

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