Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

ICOS Science conference and eLTER

14 October 2022

The ICOS ERIC (Integrated Carbon Observation System RI) organised its fifth Science conference on September 13 to 15, 2022 in Utrecht, Netherlands. Among the highly interesting scientific talks were presentations from three eLTER researchers, in the session ‘Informing transformative change towards a sustainable future using integrated environmental research infrastructures’.

Research infrastructures such as ICOS have significantly improved quantification of ecosystem greenhouse gas (GHG) balances. Thereby ICOS has paved the way for model-based regional to global data on current and future natural GHG fluxes and their underlying mechanisms, as well as their potential role as “nature-based-solutions” to the climate crisis.

However, the complexity behind ecosystem-climate interactions, including dynamics of land use, hampers the straightforward identification and implementation of solutions. eLTER is able to bring in a complementary approach that explicitly addresses potential trade-offs (most prominently biodiversity loss), as well as the dynamics of societynature interactions, for which the established data and knowledge bases provide a good starting point. There are currently 23 ICOS Ecosystem sites co-located with eLTER sites, which are an excellent basis for concrete collaboration.

The presentation of eLTER PLUS coordinator Prof. Jaana Bäck (University of Helsinki, Finland) valorized the current status of eLTER RI and highlighted a few recent examples in our scientific work, while Prof. Martyn Futter (SLU, Sweden) looked in depth at how leveraging RI colocation would help to quantify biogeochemical, ecological and social constraints on landscape-scale carbon sequestration.

Finally, Prof. Veronika Gaube (BOKU, Austria) talked about developing landuse decision-making models as inter- and transdisciplinary tools in LTSER regions. The discussion after each of the presentations was lively and there was a desire to continue the dialogue in the near future. This was previously acknowledged by the ICOS General Assembly who had signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with eLTER in late 2021.

Slide from the presentation of Prof. Jaana Bäck.