The Integrated Carbon Observation System ICOS aims to have a long-term observations time-series with high precision to understand the carbon cycle and to provide necessary information on Greenhouse Gases.

At present, the National Networks of 14 countries provide their raw data to the Integrated Carbon Observation System ICOS in order to have homogeneous processing (ICOS Data Portal).

In each networks may operate different stations whose operability is framed within the distinct domains: Atmosphere, Ecosystem and Ocean

  • Atmospheric stations are located in remote sites, on mountain tops as well as high observations towers. These stations should be little influenced by local activities, being more exposed to Atmospheric transport and processes that cover larger areas. Therefore, a suitable location for the station may be enough to cover a large continental area. 
  • Ecosystem stations are typically located on a tower that measures greenhouse fluxes, other living and non-living agents, and the drivers responsible for the exchange of greenhouse gases 
  • Ocean stations monitor the uptake of carbon by the oceans, as well as other parameters. These stations are located on research vessels or commercial ships operating on regular routes or on fixed sites in the ocean (platforms or buoys).

A specific Thematic Centre coordinates the observations and supports the stations, together with the Central Analytical Laboratories provide gas analyses and calibration gases to the stations.

Spain has joined ICOS in 2021 and its station network covers south-western Europe, extending the ICOS observations to the subtropical North Atlantic on the Canary Islands. Spain will also provide greenhouse gas observations in the Mediterranean basin and in the North Atlantic. This includes the Strait of Gibraltar where the connection of the two seas leads to a significant exchange of air and water masses.

ICOS Spain is formed by the consortium: State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET) and QUIMA group of the Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global – University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC). In the next years, different institutions will join this network: Mediterranean Center for Environmental Studies (CEAM),  Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN), and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA).