Reviews and syntheses: guiding the evolution of the observing system for the carbon cycle through quantitative network design
Abstract. Various observational data streams have been shown to provide valuable constraints on the state and evolution of the global carbon cycle. These observations have the potential to reduce uncertainties in past, current, and predicted natural and anthropogenic surface fluxes. In particular such observations provide independent information for verification of actions as requested by the Paris Agreement. It is, however, difficult to decide which variables to sample, and how, where, and when to sample them, in order to achieve an optimal use of the observational capabilities. Quantitative network design (QND) assesses the impact of a given set of existing or hypothetical observations in a modelling framework. QND has been used to optimise in situ networks and assess the benefit to be expected from planned space missions. This paper describes recent progress and highlights aspects that are not yet sufficiently addressed. It demonstrates the advantage of an integrated QND system that can simultaneously evaluate a multitude of observational data streams and assess their complementarity and redundancy.