The ecosystem stations of Brasschaat and Vielsalm were officially labelled at the 12th ICOS General Assembly (17-18 November 2020, online). Now seven out of eleven Belgian stations have passed the rigorous ICOS quality assurance process for standardised data production and are now ICOS certified. This new milestone also makes Belgium one of the best performing countries in the research infrastructure.
A big cheers to everyone who put in the hard work to make this possible!
De Standaard newspaper published two excellent longreads on ICOS and the 2018 extreme Summer drought study as part of a series about the impact of climate change on nature in Europe. The series is called ‘Het droge noorden’.
The article features interviews with PI’s Caroline Vincke (Vielsalm) and Marilyn Roland (Brasschaat).
Congratulations to everyone who made this possible!
The UN Report “United in Science” is a multi-organization high-level compilation of the latest climate science information developed by the UNFCCC and WMO. The key messages were presented 9 September 2020 in a press conference by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization.
The report cited a recent study by ICOS on urban CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 lockdown initiated by Dario Papale from the Ecosystem Thematic Centre, writing:
“An example of the significant changes that can be measured within cities (such as proposed in the WMO Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System, ig3is.wmo.int) is shown in the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) 2020 where reductions in emissions of up to 75% were measured in the city centres of Basel, Florence, Helsinki, Heraklion, London and Pesaro, using eddy covariance techniques that directly measure vertical exchange fluxes within a circumference several kilometres from the measurement point.“ (page 6)
This is a great example of ICOS knowledge going to the highest climate policy level.
Big thank you to everyone who was involved!
Read the report here
Figure 1. Average daily emissions from February 5th to May 6th 2020 (red area) and average of the previous years during the same period (grey area). The dark-orange horizontal bars cover the periods of official lockdowns while the light-orange bars indicate periods of partial lockdown or general restrictions (e.g. schools closed, personal contact reductions, mobility constraints).
Integrated Carbon Observation System, ICOS, is the first to release results of a scientific study that shows a large reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in seven European cities during the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 virus. The study is conducted by ICOS ecosystem scientists together with colleagues around Europe.
The Covid-19 related restrictions have forced many of us to stay at home. This has strongly reduced road traffic and economic activities particularly in cities and urban areas where majority of the people live. Consequently, this has also cut down human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere.
Although this reduction is not strong enough to be globally visible in the atmosphere (e.g. see ICOS news), at local scale the changes in emissions can be observed.
The study, which is currently being prepared for peer-review, shows that lockdown has so far reduced carbon dioxide emissions at all cities participating the study. “The reductions range from 8% in a highly vegetated urban area of Berlin, Germany, to 75% in the city centre of Heraklion inGreece, “says Professor Dario Papale, Director of the ICOS Ecosystem Thematic Centre.
The European cities included in the study are Basel in Switzerland, Berlin in Germany, Florence and Pesaro in Italy, Helsinki in Finland, Heraklion in Greece and London in the UK. The size of reduction varied due to the characteristics of the sampled areas and the stringency of the lockdown restrictions in place. In all cities, there was a clear temporal connection with the restrictions and the emission reduction.
For the local observations, the scientists globally use a technique called eddy covariance, in which the exchange of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and a particular ecosystem is being measured by equipment installed in towers topping over the area and its vegetation. This allows to see the changes in nearly real-time.
The tower in Heraklion observed the largest reduction, since it is in an area characterized by dense commercial activities and intense road traffic, both of which were completely stopped during the lockdown. In Pesaro, the almost full stop of all traffic reduced the CO2 emissions up to one third of the normal amount. In other cities, such as in Florence, in Basel and in Helsinki, the emissions are a combination of reduced traffic and economic activities, while increased domestic heating and human metabolism partly counterbalance the reduction. In the Basel-B location, however, the traffic is twofold in respect to the Basel-K and for this reason the reduction is larger.
Traffic and the commercial sector cause also a large part of London’s emissions – but London differs from Helsinki and Florence due to is residential contribution: normally, the weekday population in daytime central London can increase 10-fold due to the influx of commuters. This was decreased strongly with lockdown.
In Berlin, the moderate reduction in traffic has been counterbalanced by domestic emissions and the presence of vegetation, leading to relatively small fluxes.
The connection of lockdown-measures to the emissions and the connected timing can be clearly seen from the figure above.
“In some cases (Florence, London and Heraklion) emissions began decreasing even some time before the official lockdown was implemented, when people responded to recommendations to reduce travel and work from home as much as possible”, Dario Papale points out.
Dario Papale says that “This is a great example of collaboration among scientists in different countries, which is supported by local authorities who allow us to collect these important measurements. Flux measurements will be very important for monitoring the emission patterns in the coming weeks and months, when private cars will possibly be preferred to public transports to avoid crowds. This might cause a fast growth of emissions that may even exceed those of the pre-lockdown period.”
The scientists aim to make further studies based on the data generated from these city towers. While this early analysis paves the way for more in-depth studies, it already shows the importance of having observation towers also in the urban areas. This significance of cities will also grow in the future: already today, some 55% of world’s population live in cities, and according to United Nations, the percentage will grow considerably over the coming decades.
On 19 January 2020 Hannelore Theetaert, chemistry lab technician of VLIZ, joined the JC191 expedition on board the RRS James Cook. Over the course of 42 days Hannelore together with a group of 17 scientists and 4 technicians of 8 different nationalities and 10 participating institutions (led by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK) will be collecting continuous data and discrete water samples at 145 stations over a 4000 miles stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.
The aim of the JC191 expedition that started in Fort Lauderdale (Florida, USA) and will end in Tenerife (Spain) is to monitor the ocean health and to better understand how the ocean is responding to climate change.
Hannelore wrote a blog post about her on board experiences. You can read it and more on the expedition here.
Hannelore is pictured here on board of the RV Simon Stevin from VLIZ.
Prof. Dr. Ivan Janssens has been appointed as the new Belgian National Focal Point of ICOS, to succeed Prof. Dr. Reinhart Ceulemans upon his retirement. Ivan started at the position on the 1 October 2019.
Ivan has been an active member of the ICOS community since the preparatory phase, and has been the PI of the Brasschaat ecosystem station. Ivan is a leading expert in ecosystem functioning and studies the effects of global climate changes on ecosystems. He is professor at the Plants and Ecosystems research group and leads the Global Change Ecology Centre of Excellence at the University of Antwerp.
"I have to fill the gigantic footsteps that Reinhart left behind, but will do my best. I have the luxury to step in at the time that the Belgian infrastructure is really kicking off, I promise to actively contribute to maximise the impact of ICOS," tells Ivan.
Warmest thanks to Reinhart for his long commitment to ICOS, and congratulations to Ivan for the new position.
The ICOS Head Office in Helsinki, Finland has an open job position for a Head of Operations. She or he will be heading the Operations Unit, leading a team of 5 persons. The position is full-time and permanent.
The application deadline is 5 May 2019
Thirteen protocols on greenhouse gas flux and ancillary measurements at terrestrial ecosystems have been published in a dedicated issue of the open-access journal International Agrophysics. These protocols describe the current agreed methodology for assessing the greenhouse gas exchange in the terrestrial ecosystem types that are most relevant for Europe.
The protocols are published in the format of scientific articles explaining the purpose and scientific background of the measurements and justifying the choice of the method. They include a general introduction on ICOS, in particular of its ecosystem domain.
The Ecosystem Thematic Centre (ETC) took the lead in writing four of the thirteen documents, with the ETC UAntwerp team lead authoring the protocols on soil-meteorological measurements and ancillary measurements (lead authors Dr. Maarten Op de Beeck and Dr. Bert Gielen). Numerous other researchers from ICOS Belgium contributed to the development of the protocols as well.
For the practical implementation of the protocols, complementary step-by-step instruction documents were developed by the ETC, which can be found on the ETC website.
Many thanks to the ecosystem community for this huge achievement!
Find the protocols here.
The European Geoscience Union (EGU) General Assembly 2019 is taking place in Vienna (Austria) on 7–12 April 2019. EGU 2019 will bring together geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences. The deadline for abstract submission is 10 January 2019, 13:00 CET.
All information can be found here: https://www.egu2019.eu/.
The Belgian Government is investing 53,7 million EUR in a new Belgian research vessel for multidisciplinary oceanic research. The nameless ship will take the place of the 34 years old RV Belgica, which is the ICOS ocean observation platform run by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). The ship will be larger and will have double the laboratory space of the Belgica. It will also have a silent motor needed for fishery research. The ship will be built in Spain and is planned to be sea proof by October 2020.
The government has launched a competition for secondary schools to choose the new ship’s name. Classes can enter the competition via www.belspo.be/NewRV.
In the news:
On 11 September 2018 the ICOScapes Photo Exhibition was opened at the third ICOS Science Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The 24 photo’s visualizing greenhouse gas measurements and research activities at 12 ICOS stations were taken by nature photographer Konsta Punkka (@kpunkka).
The exhibition will be traveling across Europe in 2018–2019. In Belgium the research vessel Simon Stevin from VLIZ was photographed. Watch this video to learn more about the Simon Stevin.
All the photos of the ICOScapes campaign can be viewed at @icosri.
Proefkot is an afterschool science academy for children aged 11 – 13 years old organized by the University of Antwerp. A group of children from different schools and backgrounds are invited during six afternoons to follow workshops on different science and technology subjects at the university. ICOS Belgium organized two workshops about climate change on 28 March and 2 May 2018.
For more information on future editions of Proefkot visit https://www.uantwerpen.be/nl/onderzoek-en-innovatie/wetenschap-voor-iedereen/kinderen/proefkot
An information panel was put up at the Vielsalm ecosystem station to inform passers-by of the ongoing research activities. Stop by when you're in the neighbourhood.
The Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers Award celebrates the top 1% of most-cited researchers in their respective field over a recent 11-year period (2005-2015). In the 2017 list 4 Belgians have been awarded. One of which is Prof. Ivan Janssens of the Plants and Ecosystems Research Centre of Excellence (University of Antwerp) and PI for the Brasschaat ecosystem station. Prof. Janssens made it to the list three times in total. You can find his researcherID here.
See the complete 2017 list here.
In the Policy Note of Federal Minister of Science Zuhal Demir ICOS was mentioned as an example of international collaboration and of specialised research infrastructures. In the same note the investment into a new research vessel that will replace RV Belgica (Belgian's third ocean observation station) was also mentioned.
Many thanks to all the 75 participants of the very first ICOS Belgium Science Conference on 20 October 2017 in Gembloux! See you back in two years for the second edition (date and place to be announced). The presentations can now be found here:
Two new information panels were put up at the ecosystem monitoring station of Lochristi. The panels were designed to inform passers by of the ongoing research at the station. Go have a look when you’re in the neighbourhood!
On Friday 20 October 2017 the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and the University of Liège (ULG) are organizing the first science conference dedicated to the Belgian ICOS research infrastructure. The ICOS Belgium Science Conference, as the event is called, will take place in Gembloux near the ecosystem monitoring station of Lonzée, an agricultural crop land site managed by ULG and the first European station to be completely standardized according to ICOS requirements.
A visit to the Lonzée station is foreseen in the program. The goal of the science conference is to showcase the ICOS facilities, be it the freely available long term data or the standardized monitoring stations and the broad range of possibilities in which these facilities can be put to use, to the Belgian science community interested in climate change research in ecosystems, the oceans and the atmosphere.
Contributions are welcomed from researchers, modellers and other stakeholders from within and outside the ICOS Belgium network. Submit your abstract before the deadline of 1 September 2017 here . Hope to welcome many of you there!
The ICOS Belgium Science Conference will take place on 20 October 2017 in Gembloux, Belgium
You are cordially invited to register/submit your abstract here. Participation is free of charge.
Registration/submission deadline: Friday 1 September 2017.
The 10th anniversary International Carbon Dioxide Conference will provide participants with an integrated, interdisciplinary view of the global carbon cycle and its perturbation by humans. Conference themes include the contemporary carbon cycle, its trends, variability and observations, the paleo perspective and planetary boundaries, biogeochemical processes and their feedbacks and linkages with ecosystems, climate and socio-economic processes, scenarios for the future and steps toward long-term Earth system stability, as well as carbon cycle research in support of the Paris agreement.
We invite contributions from natural and social scientists and from all disciplines addressing the global carbon cycle and its anthropogenic perturbation.
More information and registration: www.icdc10.ch
The 4th ICOS Summer School (previously known as InGOS/TTorch Summer School) "Challenges in measurements of greenhouse gases and their interpretation" will be held in 2017 at Hyytiälä field station in Finland.
The school will be organized in four sections:
The last two sections will each include a practical session.
Lecturers include: Christoph Gerbig, Martin Heimann, Maarten Krol, Wouter Peters, Anders Lindroth, Greet Maenhout and Timo Vesala.
You can apply by completing this form. The receipt of your application will be acknowledged by email. Candidates will be selected by a small committee and the results will be made known by 1 March 2017.
The application deadline is 1 February 2017.
Read the full announcement with more detailed information here.
The second ICOS Belgium Consortium Study Day was organized on Wednesday 4 May 2016 in Gembloux. 26 participants from nearly all Belgian partner institutions were present.
The meeting was held at the Agro-Bio Tech campus of the University of Liège (ULG) in Gembloux. Host of the meeting and coordinator of the Walloon ICOS network Marc Aubinet opened the meeting with a welcome speech. This was followed by an overview of the past and planned activities of ICOS Belgium and an update of the current status of the Belgian Network by Focal Point Reinhart Ceulemans (presentation).
The morning session of the Study Day began with presentations of the new and upgraded stations of the Belgian ICOS Network. Lieven Naudts of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) presented the research vessel Belgica (presentation). This is already the third ocean station in the Belgian network. While Mahesh Kumar Sha of the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA) presented the very first Belgian atmospheric station located on Ile de La Réunion in the Indian Ocean (presentation). The ecosystem station in Jalhay was recently upgraded and Monique Carnol of the University of Liège gave an overview of the improvements that were made (presentation). Lastly Marilyn Roland of the University of Antwerp introduced the newly constructed ecosystem station with an underground cabin in National Park De Hoge Kempen in Maasmechelen (presentation).
Next up was Bert Gielen (University of Antwerp, Ecosystem Thematic Centre), who described the ICOS station labelling process (presentation). The labelling process has recently been opened and is being tracked and evaluated by the ICOS Thematic Centres. It is the evaluation process that all station of ICOS must successfully undergo to become part of the European ICOS Research Infrastructure. The Principal Investigators (PI's) of the Belgian stations were invited to start the application for the labelling of their stations as soon as possible. Thi Minh Tu Nguyen (University of Antwerp, Focal Point) continued the morning session with explaining the ICOS ERIC - National Network Agreement (presentation). This agreement lays out the mutual tasks and responsibilities of ICOS ERIC and the stations of the Belgian network. The agreement is signed at the end of the labelling process. It was agreed among the partners of ICOS Belgium that each host institution will sign the agreement and that the agreement must be approved by the legal department of the host institutions first.
The afternoon session of the meeting was spent brooding on new ideas and brainstorming. Thi Minh Tu Nguyen, launched the idea of writing an ICOS Belgium Consortium Mission Statement (presentation). The Mission Statement should list the objectives of the ICOS Belgium Consortium and define the roles of the Focal Point and of the Consortium partners. It should be agreed and signed by all the partners of the Consortium. A first proposal was presented and the content was discussed. Based on this debate the text will be further developed. The day was concluded with a round table discussion where ideas for outreach activities and for disseminating the results of ICOS Belgium were proposed.
We would like to thank the University of Liège for hosting the ICOS Belgium Consortium Study Day and all of the partners for a very fruitful meeting. We hope to continue our constructive collaboration within ICOS Belgium and hope that with the help of the Mission Statement we may further strengthen our partnership in the future.
The ICOS Science Conference 2016 will take place in Helsinki, Finland from 27 until 29 September 2016. You can submit your abstract through the conference website: http://www.icos-sc2016.eu/call-for-abstracts
Researchers and scientists can submit abstracts within following themes:
For early career scientists there will be an Early Career Workshop during the conference.
The deadline for abstract submission is 9 June 2016.
The official launch of the Belgian ICOS network on Tuesday 22 March 2016 in National Park de Hoge Kempen in Maasmechelen was sadly overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in Brussels. The Belgian ICOS community however was not discouraged and researchers, university representatives and stakeholders came down to the event nevertheless. The ceremony was led by Belgian Focal Point Reinhart Ceulemans. ICOS Director General Werner Kutsch had come down from the ICOS Head Office in Helsinki to do the official opening of the ICOS Belgian network and the newest ecosystem station operated by the University of Antwerp in the NP de Hoge Kempen. In his speech he emphasized the importance of tackling greenhouse gases on a global scale.
'by facilitating long-term measurements of carbon and greenhouse gasses in Europe, ICOS will deliver the invaluable knowledge needed to take effective measures against climate change both on a European and a global scale' - Werner Kutsch, ICOS Director General.
Special thanks also to Ignace Schops, director of NP de Hoge Kempen, to give an account of the history of the national park that was celebrating its 10th birthday in the same week.
And last but not least a big thank you to all the partners in the Belgian ICOS network for making this ambitious project possible!
The event was covered in the press by:
And a small sound fragment on the flemisch radio:
The FEDERAL COUNCIL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BELGIUM has financed the production of a documentary entitled On the Road to a Carbon-Free Belgium in collaboration with Rumblefish and Zero Emissions Solutions. Extracts from this documentary were shown on the 7th and 8th of December 2015 as a side event at the COP21 in Paris.
This Belgian road movie sees presenter Jan Matthys going in search of local solutions to the global problem of climate change. It goes without saying that each step of this journey, from Ghent to Flobecq, Brussels, Houthalen, Liège and beyond, is undertaken using sustainable transport. He visits transition projects tackling areas such as food, energy, transport, construction, etc. which involve not only local authorities but also local people and organisations. Wind power, cycle routes, vegetable gardens, solar panels, local produce markets, roof insulation, waste-wood fired heating networks, and much more besides... There are a great many initiatives in our country and this report will, we hope, inspire the public and politicians alike to turn the COP Paris climate change resolutions into action.
Watch the full movie here.
Federal Council for Sustainable Development Belgium website.
Read about the ICOS ERIC inauguration in the Belgian news:
On Saturday November 28th, a spectacular rescue operation was performed by the specialized GRIMP team, together with the fire brigades of Brasschaat and Kontich. The GRIMP (RED) team is specialized in rescue and interventions at difficult locations. The ICOS ecosystem tower (BE-Bra) with its 40 meter height in the middle of the forest in Brasschaat definitely qualifies as a difficult location. Two brave victims were rescued from the highest platform of the tower. Luckily this was all a planned exercise and everything ended well!
The ETC organized a meeting for the Principal Investigators (PI's) of the ICOS ecosystem sites from 25 until 27 November 2015. 75 PI's from 8 different member countries participated in a very fruitful and constructive meeting.
The European Commission has officially established the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS ERIC), a new pan-European environmental research infrastructure which aims to provide long-term carbon and greenhouse gas observations across the Europe.
The presentations given at the training session are now available:
An update on the construction works of the Maasmechelen ICOS ecosystem site. As you can see, work is moving along nicely.
The construction will be finished by the end of September 2015.
A new edition of the ICOS RI newsletter is ready, bringing you news from the ICOS community and announcing upcoming events.
We hope you'll find it to be an interesting read.
Download the Newsletter
The construction works of the third ICOS ecosystem site of the University of Antwerp have started! The site will be constructed in National Park de Hoge Kempen in Maasmechelen. The National Park is especially known for its heather vegetation. This new ecosystem site will be the only heath ecosystem site within the ICOS Ecosystem Network. The construction will be finished by the end of September 2015.
A meeting will be organized by the ETC in central Italy on November 25-27 2015 for the Principal Investigators (PI's) of the official ICOS ecosystem sites.
Topics that will be discussed are:
Mark your calendars: The 2nd ICOS RI Science Conference will be held in Helsinki, Finland on 27-29th September, 2016.
Pre-conference event is organized on 26th September 2016.
More details to follow soon.
Heathlands are very fragile ecosystems, that are vulnerable to both land-use change and human-made eutrophication. The two main ecosystem services they provide, tourism and C sequestration, are therefore as well under threat. These services are dependent on the pace of soil nutrient cycles, that are, directly or not, controlled by the activity of soil organisms. Very little is known on the biotic and abiotic factors that actually regulate this activity. It is therefore very difficult to predict if climate change will, or not, accelerate the decline of heathland's ecosystem services.
This symposium aims at discussing future research directions on this topic.
|14:00||The construction of the ecotrons|
|14:15||Studying heathland ecosystems: their patrimonial value in Belgium|
|14:45||Heathland ecosystem services: an economical perspective|
|15:35||A major ecosystem service in heathlands: C sequestration|
|16:05||Soil organisms as drivers of C and nutrient cycles in heathland ecosystems|
|16:35||Linking organisms to ecosystem functions: modelling food webs|
|17:05||How are microbial communities affected by climate change? What could be the consequences on ecosystem functioning?|
|17:35||Wrap-up and conclusion|
This 10-day course will train early career scientists (including advanced PhD students, postdocs, and Junior Faculty) in the discovery and use of in-situ data to address emerging issues in carbon cycle science including atmospheric science, biogeochemistry and ecosystem science.
World-class scientists will provide hands-on instruction in the use of 'big data' from the ICOS and NEON observatories while discussing the frontier of carbon science and promoting the discovery of new research opportunities. Bert Gielen is member of the organizing committee.
More information: http://carbonws2015.sciencesconf.org/
Guided tour of the largest bio-energy plantation of Belgium
Location: Bosstraat 31, 9080 Lochristi.
Further information in this invitation (only in Dutch).
To increase the visibility of the ETC among the scientific community a presentation with the title: Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) ecosystem network: current state and future perspectives by Gielen et al. was presented by dr. Bert Gielen from the ETC in Antwerp at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, USA on 9-13 December 2013 during a session dedicated to long-term observation networks.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the ICOS - ETC (Integrated Carbon Observation System - Ecosystem Thematic Center) and NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) last June.
The MoU establishes a framework for discussion and collaboration between the two long-term ecological monitoring networks. The signing parties agree to cooperate in broad areas such as scientific program coordination, general program management and data interoperability. More specifically this could include standardization of protocols and resulting measurements as well as sharing of codes and analytical tools for managing data products.
The main objectives are to build up and facilitate partnerships, to identify collaboration opportunities, to develop Implementing Agreements and to share data, information and updates on technology applications, information delivery and development.
Agreements such as this are necessary to help facilitate the use of data across monitoring networks.
The partners met at the final ICOS Annual Meeting of the ICOS Preparatory Phase Project (ICOS-PPP) in Biarritz from March 25 - 27 2013 to discuss the general and scientific outlines of the MoU. In May 2013 the legal aspects were agreed upon and the MoU was finalized and signed mid-June 2013.
On 7 May 2012 the Flemish participation in ESFRI was formally launched by Ingrid Lieten, Flemish Minister for Innovation, Government Investment, Media and Poverty Reduction. An investment of 3.5 million euro was promised to support the four Flemish ESFRI's:
The Flemish media gathered at the foot of the 40m scaffolding tower of the Brasschaat Ecosystem Station of ICOS, where the official launch was held.