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
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
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
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 measurement methods.
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 biophysical parameters.
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