Conceptual design of a measurement network of the global change
Abstract. The global environment is changing rapidly due to anthropogenic emissions and actions. Such activities modify aerosol and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, leading to regional and global climate change and affecting, e.g., food and fresh-water security, sustainable use of natural resources and even demography. Here we present a conceptual design of a global, hierarchical observation network that can provide tools and increased understanding to tackle the inter-connected environmental and societal challenges that we will face in the coming decades. The philosophy behind the conceptual design relies on physical conservation laws of mass, energy and momentum, as well as on concentration gradients that act as driving forces for the atmosphere-biosphere exchange. The network is composed of standard, flux and/or advanced and flagship stations, each of which having specific and identified tasks. Each ecosystem type on the globe has its own characteristic features that have to be taken into consideration. The hierarchical network as a whole is able to tackle problems related to large spatial scales, heterogeneity of ecosystems and their complexity. The most comprehensive observations are envisioned to occur in flagship stations, with which the process-level understanding can be expanded to continental and global scales together with advanced data analysis, Earth system modelling and satellite remote sensing. The denser network of the flux and standard stations allows application and up-scaling of the results obtained from flagship stations to the global level.