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.

Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC)

[Updated July 16, 2014]


  • 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)