UK-ICOS costs

The platform operational costs 

The operational costs to run the platforms, pay staff time and analyse the data is funded by a variety of different stakeholders (detailed in Appendix 3), including:

  • Forestry Commission (supporting Forest Research and the associated terrestrial observing stations),
  • Defra (supporting Cefas marine research activities),
  • NERC (providing support at PML, CEH, NCAS and NOC via continuation of funding to Research Programmes such as the UK Greenhouse Gas and Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry and Discovery Science grants),
  • EU (through Framework Programmes and Horizon 2020 funding awarded to successful consortia of multiple Research Centres and Higher Education Institutions [HEIs])
  • HEIs themselves (supporting staff time to work on projects).

Given the breadth and scope of the observations made from the UK-ICOS platforms it is clear that the funding of operational costs provided by key stakeholders facilitate a variety of observational needs that extend beyond the remit of ICOS. Overall the ICOS demands on the operational costs are a small fraction of the total effort invested into the stations. However, it should be noted that the length of funding is variable, whilst ICOS requires a 5-year funding commitment. Typically NERC, Defra and DECC funding streams are reviewed on a sub 5 year cycle and are rarely coordinated in terms of the science across the marine, atmospheric and ecosystem sectors. EU funding is typically allocated for 3 – 4 years and is dependent on the funding calls at the time, thus is not necessarily a strategic programmatic investment.

The capital investment in the stations

To ensure that the infrastructure is able to continue operating at a standard suitable for inclusion in the ICOS RI, capital investment in the UK infrastructure is needed. To this end the UK-ICOS community has put in a request for capital investment to NERC, via the recent 2015 capital ideas call. This was a community approved request led by NOC, focusing on the technology need to ensure, scientific rigour of UK greenhouse gas data sets into the future and compliance with ICOS standards in the long term. However, this NERC ideas call currently has no guarantee of funding. Any calls for funding, based on the submitted ideas, would be allocated through an open and competitive process.

The annual subscription fee

The annual subscription fee to the Head Office and station submission costs are detailed in the following table. Currently there is no identified funding stream for the cost of the annual subscription fee, which allows members to receive the benefits of the thematic centre management, central calibration services and the data portals. Once paid, the country is a member of ICOS and may not withdraw membership within the first 5-year period. The ICOS General Assembly will consider only exceptional cases for withdrawal within the initial 5-year period, and in such cases a 12-month notice will apply. 
The station submission costs are dependent on the standard to which each individual station is categorised and the number of stations submitted. For a station to be included in the ICOS RI, funding must be secured over a 5-year timescale. Currently there is no identified funding stream for the cost of the annual station submission costs. If multiple centres, HEIs and/or other funders, invest in the annual UK-ICOS subscription costs it is likely that agreements will have to be drawn up between all partners before full engagement with the ERIC process can continue.


Average annual predicted membership costs 2014 - 2018

Cost €

~ Cost £


Subscription Fee to ICOS central office

(One fee per annum per member state)


Common Basic Contribution

(Sharing 50% of the common costs between members)



Common Gross National Income Based Contribution

(Sharing 50% of the common costs as follows 3 year aggregated GNI (from EUROSTAT) expressed as a % of all members & observers)



Total Average Subscription Fee Costs

(Payable to ICOS central office)




*Annual Station Contributions from 2020 onwards

(A per station cost which will vary dependent sector and station classification)

Cost €

~ Cost £

























[1] Station contributions for Ecosystem and Atmospheric Stations are subdivided into Class 1 and Class 2. These classes will differ in the completeness of the measurements supported. This strategy aims to enhance flexibility in including stations into the network. The ecosystem sector also has an associated station classification.

Associated stations will be required to submit a full year of data, including key variables, full metadata and be compliant with ICOS data policy to maintain the ICOS Associate Status.

Any station classed as associated is not part of the ICOS network, but will be included in the ICOS database.


[2] There is currently only one standard of station submission for the marine sector.