ESA-iLEAPS Biosphere-Atmosphere-Society Index

ESA-iLEAPS Biosphere-atmosphere-society index – leader Markus Reichstein

The atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere are subsystems of the Earth system, which influence each other by exchanging energy, matter and information. These exchanges or interactions, organized on different temporal and spatial scales, require a better understanding and characterization that may ensure both an accurate description of the past processes and fluxes as well as a reliable short-term and long-term prediction of the climate and Earth system behavior and their impacts on human activities.

In the last decades, a vast amount of data has been collected via in-situ instrumental networks and by Earth Observation (EO) systems characterizing several of the key variables governing land-atmosphere processes and interactions (e.g., aerosols, active fires, burned area, smoke plume height, LAI, fPAR, greenhouse gases concentrations, soil moisture, land cover, inundation, biomass, etc..). So far, however, these data sets have not been sufficiently exploited in an integrated and synergetic manner.

On the one hand, traditional analysis strategies were often disciplinary and did not benefit from newly developed non-linear statistical techniques, which for example have been successfully applied in bioinformatics, which may allow the efficient exploitation of the synergic information provided by the different datasets in time and in space.

On the other hand, the synergic use of different EO data sets (e.g., with different levels of maturity, accuracy and consistency) requires a significant effort of harmonization and error characterization that render this important task a significant scientific and technical challenge.

The overarching goal of this initiative is to bring together the land-atmosphere interactions and the Earth Observation scientific communities to discuss and consolidate the scientific requirements to develop an iLEAPS/ESA Biosphere-Atmosphere Virtual Laboratory. This work will be based on an integrated dataset merging different EO-based products in a common spatial and temporal grid characterizing the key variables governing land-atmosphere interactions, together with a suitable error characterization, ancillary data and supported by a series of advanced data analysis tools.

The iLEAPS/ESA Biosphere-Atmosphere Virtual Laboratory shall be the basis to develop:

  1. A new iLEAPS Biosphere-Atmosphere-Society Index, which should be a robust indicator for a generic and unbiased detection of extreme or unprecedented situations in land-atmosphere interactions and should provide an independent tool for a neutral and retroperspective classifications of anomalies in EO archives.
  2. An iLEAPS Biosphere-Atmosphere Benchmarking Platform to support the validation and verification of land-surface and land-atmosphere couple models.

In this context the initiative aims to:

  • Consolidate the concept for an Biosphere-Atmosphere Virtual Laboratory and its potential role for describing the state of land-ecosystem-atmosphere interactions and the main patterns of terrestrial biosphere dynamics;
  • Define the key atmospheric and land variables that may be required to characterize the major land-atmosphere processes;
  • Review and assess the suitability of the ESA and other EO products that may be used to create an harmonized multivariate benchmark data set characterizing the key variables governing land-atmosphere interactions (e.g., CO2, CO, CH4, aerosols, active fires, burned area, FAPAR, LAI, LST, Biomass, wetlands and inundation, soil moisture, land cover, evapotranspiration, etc..);
  • Discuss the main statistical tools and analysis required to develop a iLEAPS Biosphere-Atmosphere Index;
  • Discuss the requirements of the modeling community to establish a Biosphere-Atmosphere Benchmarking Platform.

Conclusions and recommendations from a first workshop on 13 June 2013 in Munich will be used to define the scope and develop guidelines for a potential project competitively funded by ESA under the Support To Science Element to be initiated in 2014.

EO experts, land-atmosphere scientists, modellers and the iLEAPS community are invited to participate to this initiative and provide their feedback and visions that may support the preparation of the project.