The remote location in Svalbard, away from large urban and industrial areas, makes this a unique location to monitor changes in global atmospheric greenhouse gases photo: The ongoing talks in Bonn focus on how countries can report information about their emissions information to the UN, with a final "rule book" to be completed by In the meantime, hundreds of scientists and technicians are establishing an independent pan-European infrastructure system called the Integrated Carbon Observation System ICOS.
The task is to measure concentrations of carbon dioxide CO2 and methane within the climate system and gas fluxes between the land and ocean surfaces and the atmosphere. In turn, atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and geographical distribution consistent with the measurements will be estimated. The national stations form the backbone in ICOS observational system.
Currently, ICOS has more than certified observation stations across Europe, including atmospheric, terrestrial and ocean stations. ICOS Norway is building up its capacity and procedures to measure and quantify greenhouse concentrations and fluxes in the atmosphere, oceans, and terrestrial ecosystems.
No signs of reduction in CO2-concentrations The increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is the biggest driver of climate change observed in modern times.
In spite of the reported emissions to the UN indicating a slight flattening out, it is not yet visible in measurements of the global mean CO2-concentrations. Why are emission reductions not yet visible in the measurements? This is one of the feedbacks between climate and the Earth system that ICOS intends to detect and study, says Vermeulen.
Also methane concentrations, the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2, have increased considerably since about This phenomenon is not yet well explained, but seems to be linked to changes in emissions from wetlands and also probably emissions from fossil fuel production and use. Important interplay between land, ocean, and atmosphere Vegetation on land and oceans are natural sinks for CO2. They absorb about half of the anthropogenic CO2-emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use changes, which underscores the importance of understanding the interplay between the ocean, ecosystems on land, and the atmosphere.
Scientists will feed these measurements into advanced computer models that will calculate, for example, CO2-emissions across Europe. Johannessen adds that the North Atlantic is the most intense northern hemisphere marine sink for CO2, which highlights the importance of having long-oceanic observations.
This will help not only to understand the processes that drive climate change today, but also to predict future behaviour of the global carbon cycle. Carbon fluxes between atmosphere and vegetation are measured using a tower reaching above the canopy. He noted that in turn this would help to solve major society challenges. Furthermore, the data should be well documented, open and easy to access for all interested users and parties.
Through its Carbon Portal , ICOS aims to make it easy for policy-makers to find reliable measurements and estimates of greenhouse gas emissions, which can be compared with the reported emission targets and pledges to the UN.
As soon as the official ICOS high quality data starts flowing summer , users can search for the observation data. They can already view and download maps that visualize national footprints and the distribution of emissions across Europe.