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Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
11 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems (GI) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Making better sense of the mosaic of environmental measurement networks: a system-of-systems approach and quantitative assessment
Peter W. Thorne1, Fabio Madonna2, Joerg Schulz3, Tim Oakley4,5, Bruce Ingleby6, Marco Rosoldi2, Emanuele Tramutola2, Antti Arola7, Matthias Buschmann8, Anna C. Mikalsen9, Richard Davy9, Corinne Voces1, Karin Kreher10, Martine De Maziere11, and Gelsomina Pappalardo2 1Irish Climate Analysis Research UnitS, Department of Geography, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland
2Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA), Potenza, Italy
3EUMETSAT, Darmstadt, Germany
4Global Climate Observing System Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
5Met Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
6European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Reading, UK
7Finnish Meteorological Institute
8Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen
9Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
10BK Scientific, Mainz, Germany
11Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), Brussels, Belgium
Abstract. There are numerous networks and initiatives concerned with the non-satellite observing segment of Earth Observation. These are owned and operated by various entities and organisations often with different practices, norms, data policies etc. The Horizon 2020 project GAIA-CLIM is working to improve our collective ability to use an appropriate subset of these observations to rigorously characterise satellite observations. The first fundamental question is which observations from the mosaic of non-satellite observational capabilities are appropriate for such an application. This requires an assessment of the relevant, quantifiable aspects of the measurement series which are available. While fundamentally poor or incorrect measurements can be relatively easily identified, it is metrologically impossible to be sure that a measurement series is correct. Certain assessable aspects of the measurement series can, however, build confidence in their scientific maturity and appropriateness for given applications. These are aspects such as that it is well documented, well understood, representative, updated, publicly available, maintains rich metadata etc. Entities such as the Global Climate Observing System have suggested a hierarchy of networks whereby different subsets of the observational capabilities are assigned to different layers based upon such assessable aspects. Herein, we make a first attempt to formalise both such a system-of-systems networks concept and a means by which to, as objectively as possible, assess where in this framework different networks may reside. In this study, we concentrate upon networks measuring primarily a sub-set of the atmospheric Essential Climate Variables of interest to GAIA-CLIM activities. We show assessment results from our application of the guidance and how we plan to use this in downstream exemplary applications of the GAIA-CLIM project. However, the approach laid out could be more widely applicable. If broadly adopted, the system-of-systems approach will have potential benefits in guiding users to the most appropriate set of observations for their needs, and in highlighting to network owners and operators areas for potential improvement.

Citation: Thorne, P. W., Madonna, F., Schulz, J., Oakley, T., Ingleby, B., Rosoldi, M., Tramutola, E., Arola, A., Buschmann, M., Mikalsen, A. C., Davy, R., Voces, C., Kreher, K., De Maziere, M., and Pappalardo, G.: Making better sense of the mosaic of environmental measurement networks: a system-of-systems approach and quantitative assessment, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Peter W. Thorne et al.
Peter W. Thorne et al.


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Short summary
The term system-of-systems with respect to observational capabilities is frequently used, but what does it mean and how can it be assessed? Here, we define one possible interpretation of a system-of-systems architecture that is based upon demonstrable aspects of observing capabilities. We develop a set of assessment strands and then apply these to a set of atmospheric observational networks to decide which observations may be suitable for characterising satellite platforms in future work.
The term system-of-systems with respect to observational capabilities is frequently used, but...