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ICP Integrated Monitoring

International Cooperative Programme on
Integrated Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems

Chair: Mr. L. Lundin

Head of Programme Centre: Mr. M. Forsius

Investigations of air pollutants acting on particular receptors have shown that an integrated approach is needed to understand the mechanisms of damage and the resulting effects. Thus, the impacts of acidic deposition may take place in the soil, but effects are more likely to be seen in vegetation growing in the soil or in the water draining from the system. Further, while biological impacts are of prime concern, it is the chemical processes and the physical parameters in the various parts of the ecosystem that determine its suitability for biota.

The objective of the ICP Integrated Monitoring is to determine and predict of the state of ecosystems (or catchments) and their changes from a long-term perspective with respect to the regional variation and impact of air pollutants, especially nitrogen, sulphur, ozone, and metals and including effects on biota.

The programme Task Force is led by Sweden, while the Programme Centre at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) in Helsinki is entrusted with collecting, storing, processing and analysing data from countries taking part in the programme. The network currently covers some 50 sites in 19 countries.

Integrated monitoring of ecosystems involves simultaneous physical, chemical and biological measurements over time of different ecosystem compartments at the same location. In practice, monitoring is divided into a number of compartmental sub-programmes linked by the use of the same parameters (cross-media flux approach) and/or stations (cause-effect approach). Thus the Programme seeks to:

(a) monitor the state of ecosystems (catchments/plots) and provide an explanation of changes in terms of causative environmental factors, in order to provide a scientific basis for emission controls;

(b) develop and validate models for the simulation of ecosystem responses and use them:

(i) to estimate responses to actual or predicted changes in pollution stress, and

(ii) in concert with survey data to make regional assessments; and

(c) carry out biomonitoring to detect natural changes, in particular to assess effects of air pollutants and climate change.


The objectives of the ICP Integrated Monitoring are firmly focused on long-term effects and on long-term monitoring. In the short term, however, mathematical models are being developed which can simulate ecosystem response to specific pollutant stress. The data collected in the programme are used to calibrate and test models that can then be used to predict ecosystem changes under a variety of biogeophysical conditions and pollution scenarios.

Further information, including the Programme Manual, is available from the Programme Centre.