GIOS Projects

The ability to predict future changes are strongly dependent on concurrent and long-term records of glaciological, terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric processes. Arctic communities depend on knowledge especially at the ice sheet/ocean margins – where exchanges of heat, greenhouse gases, nutrients and freshwater are occurring. Sea level changes require monitoring of glaciers and ice sheets and have a global impact. In order to promote  sustained data observations, we are developing a new and integrated system, the Greenland Integrated Observing System (GIOS).


GIOS partners have a unique network of climate stations in Greenland which all hold a possibility for extension with monitoring of other atmospheric variables. An established example of this is the concept of ICOS atmospheric stations which monitors greenhouse gas (CO2 and CH4) concentrations along with a standard range of meteorological variables.

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Surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet is a major component of global sea level rise and is estimated using regional climate models, which are dependent on local observations for validation and calibration. This currently is dependent on data from a single site (Watson River in Kangerlussuaq) covered by PROMICE and dependent on seasonal manual installation and retrieval of instrumentation.

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Ice sheet

Warmer air temperatures are resulting in increased precipitation on the Greenland ice sheet and particularly an increasing contribution from rain. Rain quickly removes and darkens existing snow thus amplifying melt and loss of mass. Capturing the amplification effect caused by this transition from snow to rain precipitation is essential to correctly understand mass loss and sea level rise. To address this, existing weather stations near the margin of the ice sheet will be upgraded to better record these changes.

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Photo: Efrén López-Blanco


The temperature dependency of Arctic ecosystems is very sensitive. We will use 25 years of systematic observations of ecosystem functioning and greenhouse gas exchanges at the Zackenberg research facility and GEM-database ( as a reference. We will deploy autonomous operating measurement units in comparable vegetation types to make continuous measurements of key climate and (vegetation and soil) biogeochemical parameters at locations distributed from natural gradient from Villum Research Station over Zackenberg south to the Upernaviarsuq area.

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There are no permanent tide gauge stations in Northeast Greenland which is recognized as a gab in the existing network. GIOS will facilitate the expansion of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) tide gauge network by installing tide gauge (sea level) stations in Northeast Greenland. Internationally the combined new tide gauge network will contribute to a more complete understanding of the ocean currents exiting the Arctic Ocean, sea ice “drainage” volumes, the potential timing of open water in summer in the Arctic Ocean.

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Permafrost observations are essential to document local and regional effects of climate changes, improve model predictions and contribute to validation of climate models and feedback mechanisms not the least in terms of potential greenhouse gas production.

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Sea ice & snow

GIOS partners have a unique network of climate stations in Greenland which all hold a possibility for extension with monitoring of other atmospheric variables.

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Space weather

Measurements from geomagnetic observatories provide the necessary data foundation for studying magnetospheric and ionospheric processes inherent to Polar regions, where they are particularly strong and frequent. GIOS will upgrade and expand the network of observatories to increase the data measurement frequency and coverage to the level that is required for operational space weather observations and the study of the impacts space weather impacts in Greenland. The

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