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Scientific Consultation Workshop: Scientific Requirements Definition for the ESA-iLEAPS Atmosphere-Land Integrated Study

20 March 2009

iLEAPS is the land-atmosphere core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The scientific goal of iLEAPS is to provide understanding how interacting physical, chemical and biological processes transport and transform energy and matter through the land-atmosphere interface.

One of the key areas of interest for the iLEAPS community is the role of Eurasian boreal ecosystems in global climate regulation. On the one hand, northern forests are pools of terrestrial carbon and constitute a global sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide, thus contributing to attenuation of the greenhouse effect. On the other hand, boreal lakes and wetlands store large amounts of carbon, partially released as methane and other trace gases to the atmosphere during spring and summer. Importantly, the boreal forested area is also a substantial source of new aerosol particles.

In this context, as part of the iLEAPS scientific activities, the project has recently endorsed the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership (NEESPI), involving several scientist and institutions aimed at understanding how the land ecosystems and continental water dynamics in northern Eurasia interact with and alter the climatic system, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the Earth.

The size and remoteness of Boral Eurasia, however, pose a challenge to quantification of both terrestrial ecosystem processes and their feedbacks to regional and global climate conditions. Moreover, human activities and climate changes occurred in the last few years have altered the natural equilibrium of the whole region, thus strengthening the need for an effective mapping and monitoring of surface-atmosphere exchange interactions.

In this context, the increasing capacities of Earth Observation (EO) technology plays a key role for improving global, regional and local observations and modelling of several key parameters and processes governing the Land-Atmosphere interfaces, especially over large regions such as the NEESPI area of interest.

In order to support existing scientific efforts carried out by the iLEAPS community, the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with the iLEAPS International Project Office plan to launch the Atmosphere-LANd Integrated Study (ALANIS). ALANIS aims at:

1) Advancing towards the development and validation of novel advanced EO-based multi-mission based products, improved data sets and enhanced applications that may respond directly to the specific scientific requirements of the iLEAPS community;

2) Improving the observation, understanding and prediction of land-atmosphere processes in boreal ecosystems at different spatial and time scales;

3) Setting up a solid scientific basis for the development of a robust consistent long-term data set of EO-based land and atmospheric geo-information products over the boreal area in support of the iLEAPS scientific efforts;

4) Develop a Scientific Roadmap as a basis for further ESA activities in support of the iLEAPS community.

The project will be funded by the ESA’s Support to Science Element (STSE) and awarded to a consortium of research institutions, technical centres and value adding companies following an open competitive tender. The corresponding invitation to tender is planned for the second quarter of 2009.

In order to better define the scientific requirements for the project and to identify priorities and thematic areas to take into consideration, iLEAPS and ESA have organised a Scientific Consultation Workshop the 20th of April 2009. The objectives of the workshop are:

1. Reviewing the status of current global and regional EO-based observations relevant for the iLEAPS scientific program over the boreal area;

2. Identifying the main limits and research needs towards the development of robust operational global regional products, enhanced applications and regional data sets to serve the needs f the iLEAPS community;

3. Identifying the main research needs and data assimilation requirements to improve existing modelling efforts in preparation of advanced geo-information services for scientist and institutional users.

The workshop is organised around a number of invited keynotes speakers, who will give overviews of the aforementioned topics and related state-of-the-art research and operational developments. Successively, plenty of time will be reserved for open discussions.

The ultimate target of the workshop is to bring together the Earth science and the EO scientific communities to discuss and collect their views in order to derive the scientific requirements that will be the basis for building the planned STSE-ALANIS activity.

Final Programme and Presentations


Welcome, Introduction and Review of Objectives


Welcome (Bernhard Plunge, Austrian Academy of Sciences)


Scientific Requirements Definition for the ALANIS Project (Diego Fernandez, ESA)


IGBP overview and potential areas of collaboration with iLEAPS (Stephen Plummer, IGBP-ESA Joint Projects Office)


Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (Anni Reissell, iLEAPS International Project Office)


NEESPI overall objectives and current needs (Pavel Groisman, UCAR at National Climatic Data Center, University Corporation for Atm, USA)


Coffee break


Session 1 – Monitoring northern high latitude lake/wetland dynamics and methane emissions


Methane from boreal wetlands: issues (John Burrows, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford, UK)


Satellite data for monitoring lake and wetland dynamics in boreal environments (Annett Bartsch, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria)


Session 2 – Aerosol dynamics in boreal ecosystems


Scientific requirements for modelling aerosols in boreal forest (Michael Boy, Department of Physical Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)


Multimission aerosol retrieval from satellite observations (Gerrit de Leeuw, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland)


Round Table




Session 3 – Boreal forest vegetation dynamics and carbon fluxes


Carbon models and data assimilation for boreal forests: experiences from Northern Eurasia (Anatoly Shvidenko, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria)


Phenology and carbon dynamics of forest ecosystems: integration of remote sensing, flux observations and modelling (Mirco Migliavacca, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy)


The application of remote sensing to modelling Eurasian boreal forest dynamics (Christiane Schmullius, Dept. of Geography, Friedrich Schiller Universität, Jena, Germany)


Round Table


Coffee break


Session 4 – Biomass burning plume detection and injection height determination


Forest fires and climate change in the circumboreal fores (Mike Flannigan – William de Groot, Canadian Forest Service - Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada)


Smoke injection from vegetation fires (Meinrat O. Andreae, Biogeochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany)


Biomass burning plume monitoring: present and future role of satellite remote sensing (Jan-Peter Muller, Dept. of Space and Climate Physics, University College London - Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Dorking, UK)


Final Round Table


Open discussion - Setting up ALANIS priorities


Closing of Workshop



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