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ICOS in a few words

ICOS, the European Integrated Carbon Observation System is a distributed international research infrastructure dedicated to measure, analyze and understand fluxes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, over the oceanand at the ecosystemlevel.

Main overarching questions being tackled are

  1. the understanding of fundamental biogeochemical processes of the carbon cycle;

  2. the detection of a potential weakening (or strengthening) of the carbon sink, due to climate change and extreme climate events such as droughts;

  3. the monitoring of the long term trends of anthropogenic emissions at scales that are relevant to decision-makers.

Atmospheric measurements of GHG are also used to validate and reduce uncertainties in climate models. They feed inversion or assimilations data fusion systems to produce GHG budget at regional and global levels.

In ICOS, atmospheric measurements are coordinated via the Atmospheric Thematic Centre at LSCE that is composed of a data center and a Metrology Laboratory (MLab). This center is complemented by an in situ station quality control mobile unit based in Finland.
The MLab carries out regular measurement technology survey, test and analysis for GHG and isotope instruments of tomorrow. It facilitates development of new sensors through R&D programmes at the national and international level. In this mission it also maintains close link with the industry. The ATC MLab is the central European labellisation and training centre for ICOS atmospheric measurements.
The data center develops and maintains in house software to centrally process and quality control the data from the European atmospheric ICOS networks. Graphical applications are designed to provide near real time data products out of the underlying relational database. The data treatment is traceable to the international primary standard for GHG maintained in NOAA CMDL, Boulder, Colorado, USA.