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What is GTOS?
The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) is a system
that aims at improving the quality and coverage of terrestrial
ecosystem data. It then facilitates access to this information
so that researchers and policy makers can detect and manage
global and regional environmental change.
When was GTOS established?
GTOS was established in January 1996 by five co-sponsoring
organizations - FAO, ICSU, UNEP, UNESCO and WMO. They are
responsible for the overall programme development and implementation.
Each co-sponsor contributes to the annual operating costs
of the programme. Global observing systems also exist for
climate (GCOS hosted by WMO) and the oceans (GOOS hosted by
How does GTOS operate?
The programme is currently hosted by the FAO in Rome, Italy,
which provides a secretariat and some programme support. A
steering committee (GTSC) composed of internationally recognized
experts advises on programme priorities and activities and
maintains oversight of expert panels and project activities.
What topics does GTOS cover?
TEMS allows users to access information on sites carrying
out terrestrial research. GTOS also has information sheets,
some global maps, documents, contact lists, research project
initiatives, etc. GTOS can help direct users towards sources
of terrestrial data and has a small central budget to facilitate
activities that may have significant impacts at the regional
or global levels.
In what regions is GTOS presently
Although GTOS is a global programme, the data it uses depends
largely on national and site-level efforts. At present GTOS
has completed user-need assessments and implementation plans
for Central and Eastern Europe, and Southern Africa. GT-Net
and GOFC also carry out regional networking activities..
What kinds of projects does GTOS undertake?
GTOS is currently implementing projects on Net primary productivity,
Terrestrial carbon observations, Terrestrial ecosystem monitoring
sites database, and Global observations of forest cover.
Do I have to pay for data and information made available by
No, there is no cost or need to register for access to GTOS
data but they may supply information on data holders that
charge for data availability.
Can I send information to GTOS?
Yes. We welcome your contribution and participation in GTOS
projects. Please feel free to contact
the GTOS secretariat.
How do I get updates on recent developments
You can register to receive periodic updates on activities
in the GTOS information
What is TEMS and how does it relate
The Terrestrial Ecosystems Monitoring Sites database is an
international directory of sites (called T.Sites) and networks
that carry out long-term terrestrial monitoring and research
activities. The database is maintained by GTOS and provides
information on the "who, what and where" that is
useful to the scientific community and policy-makers.
What is GT-Net and how does it relate to GTOS?
The Global Terrestrial Observing Network (GT-Net), is a "system
of networks", formed by linking existing monitoring networks.
The aim is to build synergy through collaborative arrangements
between networks that share common interests. The NPP and
TCO initiatives make considerable use of GT-Net which provides
an umbrella for exchanging information and addressing issues
such as data access and availability and harmonization of
What is TOPC and how does it relate
The Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) was set
up jointly by GTOS and GCOS in 1995 to design and implement
a long-term observing system to monitor terrestrial processes
affecting climate or affected by climate change. Initially,
it focused on the planning and design aspects of its mandate,
including the development of GHOST, the Global hierarchical
observing strategy. The panel is now focusing on TCO, further
development of terrestrial observation networks, specifying
data requirements from satellites, and identifying global
What is GOFC and how does it relate
Global Observation of Forest Cover is a GTOS panel. It was
originally developed as a pilot project by the Committee on
Earth Observation Satellites, as part of their Integrated
Global Observing Strategy. GOFC's overall objective is to
improve the quality and availability of satellite observations
of forests at regional and global scales and to produce useful,
timely and validated information products from these data
(together with in-situ observations) for a wide variety of
users. They have implementation teams on Forest cover characteristics
and change, Forest fire monitoring and mapping, and Forest
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FAO :: Global Terrestrial
Observing System - GTOS ::
16 May 2002