Finland, December 3, 2017: Regional greenhouse gas measurements are critical to understand the advancement of climate change, and to predict as well as to mitigate its consequences. This activity is becoming increasingly important, since the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing faster than previously anticipated, as recently announced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
ICOS, a European research infrastructure measuring greenhouse gases, has built an extensive network of 140 measurement stations to provide science-based information for the scientific community and for key decision-makers. After more than five years of building the network and other preparations, the first seven stations out of the total 140 now meet the high standards of a certified ICOS measurement station. The rest of the stations also have started the work, with the aim to have all ICOS stations standardised by the end of 2019. The standards fulfil and even exceed all international criteria, for example, the ones set by World Meteorological Organization and United Nations.
“Thanks to our standardised network of measurement stations, we gain much more precise knowledge of the carbon emissions and sinks in Europe: Of the ones produced by us people, but also of the natural fluxes of the greenhouse gases,” said Dr Werner Kutsch, Director General, ICOS.
Natural carbon fluxes affect the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as much as human emissions, and may themselves be altered by climate change. In the long-term, it is important to be able to distinguish between natural and fossil fuel emissions to be able to direct the efforts in the right way.
“The greenhouse gas information gathered from all over the Europe is essential for national governments to improve their mitigation activities, and also for inter-governmental organisations to make informed decisions, when they seek ways to fulfil the requirements set by international agreements,” Dr Kutsch said. The Paris Agreement and the recent UN Carbon Observation Protocol negotiated in Bonn are examples of such agreements.
The stations receiving the certificate now are located in Belgium, France, Finland, Italy and Germany. One of the certified stations is Siikaneva in Finland. The measurements include carbon dioxide and methane fluxes between the ecosystem and the atmosphere. The station also does weather measurements, such as air temperature and precipitation.
“The active standardisation work at Siikaneva started about 3 years ago,” said Eeva-Stiina Tuittila, Head, Siikaneva Ecosystem Station, and Professor, Forest Soil Science, the University of Eastern Finland. “These three years have been an intensive time: Four teams have worked hard to procure suitable equipment and to prepare it for the high ICOS standards. Last summer, we literally crouched on the ground to document, for example, the vegetation and its growth on the area.”