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Home > Resources > FAQ

Frequently asked questions
FAQ  |  Glossary  |  News note | Data management | Roster of experts

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 UNESCO-IOC).

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 working?
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 GTOS?

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 in GTOS?
You can register to receive periodic updates on activities in the GTOS information note.

What is TEMS and how does it relate to GTOS?
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 measurement methods.

What is TOPC and how does it relate to GTOS?
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 data sets.

What is GOFC and how does it relate to GTOS?
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 biophysical parameters.

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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   16 May 2002