The Global Terrestrial ObservingSystem (GTOS)

The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) is a programme for observations, modelling, and analysis of terrestrial ecosystems to support sustainable development. GTOS facilitates access to information on terrestrial ecosystems so that researchers and policy makers can detect and manage global and regional environmental change. The GTOS programme structure is composed of panels, regional projects and technical programmes. Implementation of the observing programs is accomplished using satellite missions, technical programs, and existing and expanded terrestrial networks.


First official release of the ESA CCI Land Cover products: a new generation of satellite-derived global land cover products. In the framework of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) supported by the European Space Agency in response to the Essential Climate Variables listed by the Global Climate Observing System, the CCI Land Cover team made of 8 satellite remote sensing labs and of 3 major climate modeling centers is proud to deliver a suite of 5 products particularly relevant for the climate and land research communities:

  • three 300m global land cover maps including 22 classes for the 1998-2002, 2003-2007 and 2008-2012 epochs derived from a multi-sensor and multi-year strategy,
  • three global land cover seasonality products about vegetation greenness, snow and burned areas on a 7-day basis,
  • a 7-day surface reflectance time series of the MERIS Full & Reduced resolution  for the whole archive (2003-2012),
  • a 300m global map of open permanent water bodies, derived from the full ASAR dataset between 2005 and 2010
  • the associated user tool for the climate modeling community.

Additional information:

The ESA CCI Land Cover team is led by the Université catholique de Louvain (BE) includes Brockmann-Consult (DE), Gamma RS (CH), Wageningen University (NL), University of Jena (DE), University of Pavia (IT), Public Research Centre - Gabriel Lippmann (LU), Joint Research Centre (EU), and as climate modelers, the Laboratoire des sciences du climat et l'environnement (FR), the Met Office Hadley Centre (UK), and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (DE).


  • NETWORKS - The Global Terrestrial Observing Network is a system of thematic observation networks. Each represents an organized effort for a particular theme, habitat type or region. The Global Terrestrial Networks are: River Discharge (GTN-R), Glaciers (GTN-G), Hydrology (GTN-H), Lake Level/Area (GTN-L), Mountains Network and Permafrost (GTN-P)** (The concept of Global Terrestrial Networks (GTNs)
  • SITE DATA - The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) is an international directory of sites (named T.Sites) and networks that carry out long-term terrestrial monitoring and research activities. (***Please note that the TEMS database is offline until further notice***)
  • BIODIVERSITY - GTOS Biodiversity Initiative (B-GTOS)


  • THE GLOBAL OBSERVATION OF FOREST AND LAND COVER DYNAMICS (GOFC-GOLD) panel for climate  is a coordinated international effort to supply space-based and in situ forest and land cover observations to obtain an accurate, reliable and quantitative understanding of global change processes (Data Access) (Program Overview)
  • The Terrestrial Observing Panel for Climate (TOPC) was jointly established by GTOS and GCOS. TOPC is a group of scientists with expertise in climate change issues and focuses on the identification of terrestrial observation requirements.
  • The Terrestrial Carbon Observation (TCO) Panel of GTOS supports the coordination of a global carbon observation system and its database.
  • The Coastal-GTOS (C-GTOS) is a program GTOS has developed in collaboration with other coastal programmes and international initiatives to focus on global and regional change in coastal areas. There is a clear need for information on global and regional change in coastal areas. Collection of in situ and remote sensing data must be improved and associated data management, model production and communication infrastructure developed to provide free and timely information to developed and developing nations.




  • Framework for Terrestrial Climate-Related Observations and Development of Standards for the Terrestrial Essential Climate Variables: Proposed Workplan, September 2010 (Condensed Report) (Full Report)