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Questions relating to the distribution and spatio-temporal dynamics of the terrestrial carbon fluxes are at the core of current scientific and policy debates. In recent years, the primary concern has been the increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere, its effect on climate, and the associated role of terrestrial ecosystems in mitigating the increase and impact of climate change. However, terrestrial carbon dynamics is also closely related to biodiversity, land degradation, and other pressing policy and assessment questions. Yet at a global level, no system in place now can provide quantitative information about carbon sources and sinks systematically, reliably, and accurately. An international effort aimed at changing this situation was initiated in 1999 under the auspices of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy partnership (IGOS-P). The Terrestrial Carbon Observation (TCO) initiative is an effort by space and international organisations within IGOS-P to employ the best current observing tools and models to rapidly build up a global observing system for tracking carbon fluxes between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere or oceans. TCO planning has been led by the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) support. TCO deals with the terrestrial and atmospheric components of the global carbon cycle. IGOS-P is also sponsoring the development of an Ocean carbon theme and an overarching global carbon observation theme, IGCO, led by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) which will integrate the two.

Additional information

Authors: CIHLAT J ET AL, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Global Vegetation Monitoring, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: An article published in: Eos (weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union), Vol 83, No. 1, 1 January 2002
Record Number: 200214702 / Last updated on: 2002-05-15
Original language: en
Available languages: en