ICOS - Central Analytical Laboratories

About ICOS


The Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) is a new research infrastructure to study the European greenhouse gas budgets.

ICOS tracks carbon fluxes in Europe and adjacent regions by monitoring the atmosphere and its greenhouse gas exchange fluxes with ecosystems and the oceans through integrated networks.

ICOS mission statement

The ICOS-RI (Research Infrastructure) ☛ was created to establish a sustained greenhouse gas observation system that increases usability of the research data and such enable high quality climate change research

  • Long-term harmonized observations are required to understand the present state and predict future behavior of the global carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • These monitoring data shall allow to assess the effectiveness of carbon sequestration and/or greenhouse gases emission reduction activities, including attribution of sources and sinks by region and sector.
See also ICOS-RI's website ☛



The Central Analytical Laboratories (CAL) are one of the ICOS - Central Facilities that support the monitoring activities of the observational networks. The ICOS-CAL aim to ensure the accuracy of ICOS atmospheric measurement data. This goal involves the following tasks:

  • provision of reference gases for calibration of continuous in-situ measurements performed at the monitoring stations
  • the analysis of ancillary parameters in air samples taken at the ICOS monitoring stations
  • maintenance of sampling containers
  • development of sampling equipment
  • support of quality control activities

General functions

The Central Analytical Laboratories are located in Germany and consist of two laboratories in Jena (hosted by the Max-Planck-Insititute for Biogeochemistry) and Heidelberg (operated by the Institute of Environmental Physics of the University of Heidelberg). Their respective general functions are as follows:

  • The Flask and Calibration Laboratory (FCL ☛) in Jena performs analysis of greenhouse gas concentrations and of other tracers that carry auxiliary information on the origin of the air samples (CO2 stable isotope composition, O2 level, additional gases), produces calibrated real air reference gases and provides support on the material involved
  • the Central Radiocarbon Laboratory (CRL ☛) in Heidelberg quantifies the radiocarbon content of CO2 in air samples and develops methods to derive the fossil fuel contribution to atmospheric CO2

CAL contact persons & division heads