ICOS aims to have a high quality standardised station network across Europe and therefore all the stations entering into ICOS network must go through a station labelling process. This process includes a testing period and training to become familiar with the ICOS methodology.
The three-step labelling process takes several months and is as follows:
Step 1 - Formal application
Before an application can be submitted to ICOS, it must be approved by the national government funding the station. Once approval has been received, it will be submitted to the ICOS European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ICOS ERIC) and added to the list of proposed stations. The Principal Investigator (PI), or the station owner, of each station must provide all required application documents to the Ocean Thematic Centre (OTC).
The OTC will evaluate the station applications and propose acceptance to the Director General (DG). The DG will consult with the ICOS Research Infrastructure Committee (RI Committee) and inform the applicant of the decision.
Step 2 - Evaluation period
The stations accepted under Step 1 must pass through an evaluation period that shall facilitate their compliance to the defined protocols for measurements. The aim of this period is to familiarise the station staff and PI with the ICOS standard methodologies, quality systems, of the rights and responsibilities of networks and OTC as part of the ICOS RI, and commit the station staff and PI to them.
The station will submit metadata and measured data to the OTC for evaluation. The OTC will ensure that it meets the requirements of either a Class 1 or Class 2 marine station. Required parameters, frequency of measurements, and criteria to become a Class 1 or Class 2 marine station are defined here.
Once the evaluation is complete, the OTC will forward a final recommendation to the DG regarding acceptance of the station and confirm its Class 1 or Class 2 status. The DG will consult with the RI Committee and submit the decision to the General Assembly (GA).
Step 3 - Formal decision by the GA
The GA will formally decide whether to include the station into the Monitoring Station Assemblies (MSA) based on recommendation from the OTC and statements from the RI Committee. If accepted, the site will become an official ICOS site. In case a station is not accepted, the GA will return the station to the OTC for continued evaluation.
All ICOS marine stations will be re-evaluated on a regular basis, and the OTC will work with the PIs to attain and maintain the best possible data quality.