Global Terrestrial Observing System

Project Description
The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) was established in
January 1996 by five co-sponsoring organizations. Together with
similar global observing systems for climate (GCOS) and the oceans
(GOOS), GTOS has been created in response to international calls for a
deeper understanding of global change in the Earth System.
The central mission of GTOS is to provide data for detecting,
quantifying, locating and giving early warning of changes in the
capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to sustain development and
improvements in human welfare. GTOS will help find answers to five key

1. What are the impacts of land use change and degradation on
sustainable development? Can the land produce enough food for the
world's future population (projected at 12,000 million by 2050)?

2. Where, when and by how much will demand for freshwater exceed

3. Where and when will toxic pollutants cause major threats to human
and environmental health and the capacity of ecosystems to detoxify

4. Where and what type of biological resources are being lost, and
will these losses irreversibly damage ecosystems or human progress?

5. What are the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems?
The core of GTOS will be a permanent observing system for the world's
key managed and natural ecosystems. The system is based on a five-tier
data sampling strategy involving large-scale studies of the Earth's
major environmental gradients, agricultural and ecological research
centres, field stations and a gridded series of some 10,000 sampling

Visit the GTOS Home Page at:

or contact:

GTOS Secretariat
c/o Environment and Natural Resources Service
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
Rome 00100 - ITALY
Tel: 0039-6-5705-2586 / 3450
Fax: 0039-6-5705-3369