The second edition of FLUXES is out!
Nature-based solutions for net zero might help, but they won’t save us
The second volume of FLUXES addresses the potential and limitations of nature-based solutions for carbon removal from a scientific perspective, focusing on land ecosystems and the ocean. In this edition European climate scientists warn against placing too much trust in the ability of nature’s carbon sinks to save us from climate change.
“The carbon sinks both on land and ocean ecosystems are important, but vulnerable”, says Werner Kutsch, Director General of ICOS. “These sinks have suffered over the years, and still continue to suffer from human actions . Climate change further decreases the ability of the sinks to take up and store carbon. Reducing fossil fuel use to zero in the next few years is the only option”.
Also Ivan Janssens from ICOS Belgium participated in this edition, providing more insights in enhanced carbon storage in agricultural soils through carbon farming. “Carbon farming has tremendous potential. If we manage to increase the agricultural soil carbon stocks, this would not only be beneficial for the climate, but also positively affect the soil water retention capacity and biodiversity”.
FLUXES, the European Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, is a publication by ICOS which aims at highlighting climate issues to an audience of policymakers, policy advisors, and climate journalists.
RV Belgica is ready for its biggest expedition so far
R.V. Belgica left the port of Zeebrugge for a two month scientific adventure to over Ireland to the arctic areas of Iceland and Greenland. This will be the longest voyages of the R.V. Belgica so far! Days before the departure scientist were busy making sure to pack all needed equipment (and some more) for all planned experiments and sampling sessions. On board also ICOS researchers from VLIZ. They packed, amongst other things, three large lab instruments for measurements of dissolved organic carbon and total alkalinity in the sea water amongst the unique trajectory. Fun fact: In order for all instruments to run smoothly VLIZ scientists had to reconnect over 20 meter of tubing on board of the ship.
Day of loading reporters from VRT nws and RTBF were present to film and interview (ICOS) scientist on their plans. In case you missed it, you can rewatch the reportage from VRT NWS in Flemish (check 42:30 – 45:04) or RTBF in French.
For regular updates on the cruise make sure to follow @ICOSBeglium and @HowBigIsBelgica.be
Fair winds for R.V. Belgica, it’s crew and it’s scientist!
The Ecosystem Stations Dorinne and Yangambi receive ICOS label
After passing a rigorous quality assurance process, 10 new measurement stations have received the status of an ICOS labelled station. Station labelling is one of the key ways ICOS keeps the quality of its data high and ensures its usability in climate research. To receive the label of a standardised greenhouse gas measurement station, all ICOS stations have to pass a demanding standardisation and quality control programme. Data from labelled stations is regularly monitored to maintain the best possible quality.
Two of the ten measuring stations that received their ICOS label are (co-)operated by a Belgium research institute. The grassland station in Dorinne operated by Liège University is now labelled as a class 2 measuring site. The Yangambi station, operated by Ghent University and the Research Center of Yangambi, is now the first official associated ICOS site in the Congo Basin.
Congratulations to everyone who put in the hard work to make this possible!
ICOS detects methane peaks after Nord Stream leak
Due to the damage to the Nord Stream gas lines in the Baltic Sea, an enormous amount of methane gas has been released into the atmosphere. Methane is one of the strongest greenhouse gases. In a period of 100 years, it warms the atmosphere about 30 times more than carbon dioxide. The leak is probably one of the largest methane leaks ever detected and is estimated to equal the size of a whole year's methane emissions for a city the size of Paris.
The methane emissions are confirmed by ICOS ground-based observations from several stations in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Observation satellites were most probably not able to see the emission leaks, because the weather was cloudy. “These observations underline the benefits of a standardised, large network, enabling quick and reliable detection of unexpected greenhouse gas increases or decreases”, says Director General of ICOS, Werner Kutsch.
- ICOS measurements show huge methane peaks in the atmosphere after Nord Stream leak | ICOS (icos-cp.eu)
- Gaspijpleiding Nord Stream 2 lekt niet meer, maar lekkages veroorzaakten wel "enorme methaanpieken" in de atmosfeer | VRT NWS: nieuws (Dutch only)
COP27 preparation meeting - Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo)
In preparation of the COP27 (the annual United Nations Climate Conference taking place early November), environment ministers and high-ranking emissaries of fifty countries meet in Kinshasa. For two days, they will discuss critical climate issues. This to facilitate decision making during the actual COP meeting that will take place in Sharm-el-Sheikh early November. With the organisation of both the COP and pre-COP on the African Continent, officials hope to confront rich and polluting countries with their (historic) responsibilities and reinforce the demand for climate justice.
DRC also takes advantage of the pre-COP to present itself as a "solution country", as over 160 million hectares of its territory is covered with tropical rainforest. This Congo Basin is a "green lung" capable of absorbing carbon and contributing to the fight against climate change. To underline its importance, the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve, located in the heart of the Congo Basin and home of the ICOS tower, was the setting an international scientific conference organised in September 2022 by the government in context of the pre-COP. The conference focussed on the contributions of tropical forests to the fight against climate change. Scientists and officials met under the Flux tower highlighting the position of the DRC as the first lung of the planet and in the forefront of scientific research on climate change.
Research Vessel Belgica christened
On Saturday 25 June Princess Elisabeth christened the new oceanographic research vessel Belgica. With a length of 71 m and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, this new vessel is ready to play a key role in Belgian and European marine research. Setting off from Zeebrugge, the R.V. Belgica will go on campaigns in the North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, and will even be heading out for summer operations in arctic areas.
Research on board will focus on monitoring the state of marine waters and investigating water quality, marine life and the environmental impact of human activities. An ICOS ocean station (Class 2, Ocean Station) will also be installed on board to continuously monitor sea water and meteorological parameters.
We wish the RV Belgica and her crew a safe and productive voyage!
ICOS Wallonia funded for another five years
In October 2020 the Walloon government decided to continue the ICOS-WB infrastructure project for another five years (2021-2026). Phase 2 for the Walloon ICOS network started on 1 July 2021. The consortium consists of ULiège, coordinator of the network together with UCLouvain, ISSeP and CRAw with the Service Public de Wallonie (SPW) acting as the funding agency.
To celebrate the start of the new funding period a Kick-off meeting was held on 4 November 2021 with the follow-up committee.
Webinar series: ICOS Cities Talks
The ICOS Cities project is designing new ways to observe greenhouse gas emissions in cities. Paris, Munich and Zürich are the first cities to test the measurement methodologies. As part of the project, ICOS Cities Talks is launched – a webinar series with experts discussing climate change and its measurement in urban environments.
Urban areas contribute to a large share of global and European fossil fuel emissions - cities are therefore at the heart of emission reduction efforts. The aim of ICOS Cities is to help cities execute their climate action goals by providing data on fossil fuel emissions from urban areas.
“The ICOS Cities project brings together over 100 top scientists from different fields of science. They represent 30 European Universities and research organisations. I am confident that together with this group of top scientists, we can bring forth new solutions to support cities in their climate actions and decisions,” says Werner Kutsch, the coordinator of the project and Director General at ICOS ERIC.
ICOS Cities Talks for everyone
Kicking off the project, a brand-new webinar series ‘ICOS Cities Talks’ will start on Wednesday the 3rd of November. The webinars gather experts from around the globe, giving a 30 minutes talk on greenhouse gas measurements and climate change in urban landscapes. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a discussion.
“The first talks will revolve around e.g. eddy covariance flux measurements, city climate budget as a tool to achieve ambitious climate goals and how to measure attitudes among citizens towards climate change. During the upcoming months, there will be plenty of other interesting topics that will be launched very soon,” says Claudio D’Onofrio, ICOS Cities Project Manager.
The webinars are free of charge and open for everyone. Especially students, researchers and other professionals are invited to join. More info and registration here.
Vielsalm ICOS station: 25 years of greenhouse gas measurements
UCLouvain and ULiège are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Vielsalm measurement station. Founded in 1996, it is one of the oldest greenhouse gas exchange measurement stations in Europe.
"For a quarter of a century, this station has been providing scientists and decision-makers with very high-precision data", emphasises Caroline Vincke, professor at the Faculty of Bioengineering of the UCLouvain and head of the Vielsalm station since 2014.
Thanks to a 50-metre high flux tower, the station measures every 30 minutes the exchange of CO2 and water vapour between the atmosphere and the forest ecosystem composed of beech, Douglas fir and spruce trees. Other data collected in the air, soil and vegetation help to understand what influences these fluxes.
Over the past 25 years, numerous research projects have been conducted thanks to the measurements carried out at Vielsalm. In particular concerning the carbon sequestration of the forest and its resilience to climatic events or biotic attacks.
The UCLouvain and ULiège have thus demonstrated that this forest ecosystem behaves like a fairly stable carbon sink, with the beech trees absorbing an average of 411gC/m2/year and the Douglas fir trees absorbing 813gC/m2/year. "In other words, says Caroline Vincke, one hectare of this forest offsets the CO2 emissions of a conventional car driven 116 000 kilometres."
In the autumn of 2020, Vielsalm was awarded the prestigious ICOS ecosystem label. To celebrate this milestone and the 25th anniversary of the, a ceremony was held on Wednesday 27 October 2021 with Walloon minister of economy, research and innovation and agriculture Willy Borsus.
Hungary to be 14th country to join ICOS Research Infrastructure
After Hungary's accession to ICOS on 1st of January 2022, several Hungarian atmosphere and ecosystem observation stations will be gradually integrated into the ICOS network. The first station entering the network will be an existing atmosphere station in the village of Hegyhátsál in Vas County in western Hungary, operated by the Institute for Nuclear Research.
The addition of Hungary to the map provides scientists with a possibility to compare greenhouse gas measurements from an area reaching all the way from Atlantic Ocean to Hungary, and from Canary Islands to Finnish Lapland.
Read more here.
Vacancy: (Bio)-Engineer in charge of the technical implementation, monitoring and data management of environmental measurement chains for ICOS-Belgium
The BioDynE (Biosystems Dynamics and Exchanges) axis at the Faculty of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (University of Liège, Belgium) is hiring an engineer to set up and monitor its experiments in the framework of the ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System, https://www.icos-ri.eu/, http://www.icos-belgium.be/) project.
He/she will work within the ICOS-Wallonia-Brussels team, a dynamic team of two (bio)-engineers and two technicians that seeks to understand the functioning of agronomic and forest ecosystems to meet tomorrow's environmental challenges (reduction of the greenhouse effect, feeding the population, ...). The team is integrated in the BioDynE research axis which provides a stimulating work environment in a university setting, including multiple collaborations with researchers and technicians.
The call will close on November 1st 2021.
Download full vacancy here.
Belgian Focal Point Ivan Janssens ranked 135th in Reuters list world’s top climate scientists
Belgian Focal Point Ivan Janssens was ranked 135th in the Reuters list of the world’s top climate scientists. The list ranks 1000 climate academics according to how influential they are. Ivan Janssens is the highest ranking Belgian scientist.
The ranking is based on how many research papers he has published on topics related to climate change, how often those papers are cited by other scientists in similar fields of study and how often those papers are referenced in the lay press, social media, policy papers and other outlets.
Consult the full list here