• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
photo: iStockphoto/Daniel Sambraus

Research and projects

IGBP science is the study of the Earth system, in particular the interactions between biological, chemical, physical  and human systems.

Core projects

IGBP has 12 major international projects (including 4 joint projects coordinated by the Earth System Science Partnership). Each project has an international project office (IPO). Several projects also have satellite offices - "nodal offices" -  throughout the world.

  • Analysis, Integration and Modelling of the Earth System (AIMES)
  • Global Land Project (GLP)
  • International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC)
  • Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS)
  • Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER)
  • Land-Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ)
  • Past Global Changes (PAGES)
  • Surface Ocean—Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS)

Joint projects and studies

  • Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
  • Global Carbon Project (GCP)
  • Global Environmental Change and Human Health (GECHH)
  • Global Water System Project (GWSP)
  • Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START) http://start.org/
  • Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study (MAIRS)


In 2009, IGBP decided to synthesise knowledge about a series of policy-relevant topics.

  • Earth-system impacts from changes in the cryosphere (Lead: Ray Bradley)
  • Impacts from changes in the cryosphere on the biota and societies in the arid Central Asia (Lead: Qin Dahe)
  • Megacities in the coastal zone (Lead: Mark Pelling)
  • Global environmental change and sustainable development: needs of least developed countries
  • Geoengineering impacts (Lead: Pauline Dube)
  • Nitrogen and climate (Lead: Jan Willem Erisman)
  • Impacts of land-use-induced land-cover changes on the functioning of the Earth System (Nathalie de Noblet and Peter Verburg)
  • Air pollution and climate (Paul Monks and Kathy Law)

Major endorsed projects

  • African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA)
  • International Nitrogen Initiative (INI)
  • Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI)

Recent Fast-Track Initiatives

We have run several Fast-Track Initiatives over the years. These were designed to reduce uncertainty in key areas of the Earth system or to develop new ideas or concepts. The most recent ones were:

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Please note!

IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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