ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System)

With the BMBF-funded project "Integrated Carbon Observation System" (ICOS) a research infrastructure and thus a network of continuous, high-quality and standardized greenhouse gas measurements across Europe was established.

This research infrastructure should serve as a model for the development of similar greenhouse gas monitoring networks, also outside of Europe. The aim of the ICOS research infrastructure is to guarantee harmonized, precise and continuous long-term measurements throughout Europe, in particular of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere as well as at their continental sources and sinks. The goal is to record scientifically robust quantitative data on the regional greenhouse gas emissions of Europe with its temporal changes in order to evaluate and verify activities to reduce emissions. These measurements are therefore indispensable for any climate protection policy. On the one hand, the existing measuring network in the atmosphere, the ocean and in various ecosystems was further developed to enable monitoring of greenhouse gas balances at regional and European levels. On the other hand, the central European calibration laboratory, but also a central laboratory for trace gas measurements and radiocarbon, was set up for the entire European ICOS.

The installation of the German contribution to ICOS was supported by BMBF from 2012 to 2016. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI, via the German Meteorological Service) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (via the Thünen Institute) support the long-term operation since the end of 2016. In addition, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association as well as several universities and technical colleges are long-term sponsors of the infrastructure.

On behalf of BMBF, the Unit "Environment and Sustainability" of DLR Project Management Agency has been supervising the ICOS-Germany research infrastructure from 2012 to 2016.

On November 9, 2016, the completion of the construction phase for ICOS-D and the inauguration of the central laboratory for trace gases measurements and radiocarbon were celebrated in Heidelberg with the participation of BMBF and BMVI.

The festive transfer of the research infrastructure took place on 5 December 2016 at the ICOS-D location Hohenpeißenberg with the participation of parliamentary state secretary Stefan Müller (BMBF) and Minister Alexander Dobrindt (BMVI).

The greenhouse gas data collected via ICOS forms a valuable basis and is incorporated into the "Integrated Greenhouse Gas Monitoring System for Germany (ITMS)", which is currently being funded by the BMBF.

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