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Environment - Earth Sciences - 21.05.2020
Millions of people drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic
Millions of people drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic
Today, one third of the world's population obtains its drinking water and water for irrigation from groundwater reserves. Global population growth and water scarcity due to climate change mean that the pressure on this resource is continually increasing. However, many wells are contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic.

Earth Sciences - 15.05.2020
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Seismic monitoring of glaciers is essential to improving our understanding of their development and to predicting risks. SNSF Professor Fabian Walter has come up with a new monitoring tool in the form of optical fibres. The fibres are capable of monitoring entire glaciers. Glaciers are constantly moving and they therefore need monitoring.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.05.2020
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the "gas sniffer"
The rock laboratory on the Grimsel Pass in the Bernese Oberland lies 400 metres deep in the mountain. There, geophysicists from the ETH Zurich have installed an experimental setup with which they agitate the rock, thereby systematically causing it to break. They want to find out how geothermal energy projects in Switzerland, for example, can be implemented safely in the future.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.04.2020
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
The use of dirty coal as a heat source makes life tough in the Mongolian winter. ETH geophysicists are helping to develop geothermal energy as a clean alternative. Many Europeans have an idyllic view of Mongolia as a land of wide, empty spaces and pristine nature. But the truth is more complicated, especially in winter.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 24.02.2020
The seismicity of Mars
The seismicity of Mars
Fifteen months after the successful landing of the NASA InSight mission on Mars, first scientific analyses of ETH Zurich researchers and their partners reveal that the planet is seismically active. The recorded data enables a better understanding of the interior of Mars, the primary goal of the InSight mission.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 10.02.2020
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Researchers from the University of Geneva have studied the seismic activity recorded during the drilling of a geothermal well and shown that it did not spark any major earthquake. Although stopping climate change is challenging, it is imperative to slow it down as soon as possible by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 30.01.2020
Rivers are warming at the same rate as the atmosphere
Rivers are warming at the same rate as the atmosphere
Researchers at EPFL and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) have found that the temperature of Swiss rivers is rising steadily. This situation is straining ecosystems and could limit the use of this water in Switzerland's nuclear and hydropower industries. For a long time, meltwater from snow and glaciers has limited the warming of the Swiss rivers, allowing them to maintain a relatively low temperature throughout the year.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 16.01.2020
Predicting hydraulic fracture propagation more accurately
Predicting hydraulic fracture propagation more accurately
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new model to calculate hydraulic fracture propagation. Acclaimed for its accuracy by experts, the model better predicts fracture geometry and the energy cost of hydraulic fracturing - a widely used technique in areas such as CO2 storage, hydrocarbon extraction, dams and volcano hazard monitoring.

Earth Sciences - 14.01.2020
No need to dig too deep to find gold!
No need to dig too deep to find gold!
A UNIGE researcher has discovered the particularities of porphyry copper and gold deposits, providing mining companies with a new tool to maximise the extraction of these two metals. Why are some porphyry deposits - formed by magmatic fluids in volcanic arcs - rich in copper while others primarily contain gold? In an attempt to answer this question, a researcher from the University of Geneva investigated how the metals are accumulated over the time duration of a mineralizing event, looking for a correlation between the amounts of copper and gold extracted from the deposits.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 09.01.2020
Improved Functioning of Diverse Landscape Mosaics
Improved Functioning of Diverse Landscape Mosaics
It is well-established that biodiverse ecosystems generally function better than monocultures. Ecologists at the University of Zurich have now shown that the same is true on a larger scale: Having a mix of different land-covers including grassland, forest, urban areas and water bodies improves the functioning and stability of a landscape - irrespective of the plant species diversity, region and climate.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 06.01.2020
Reducing human-induced earthquake risk
Reducing human-induced earthquake risk
Researchers at EPFL and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy have devised strategies for reducing the earthquake risk associated with geothermal energy, CO2 storage and other human activities happening deep underground. Although most earthquakes are attributable to natural causes, some are triggered - directly or indirectly - by human activity.

Earth Sciences - 20.12.2019
Why is the earth shaking in Ischia?
Why is the earth shaking in Ischia?
Italian and Geneva researchers unveil the cause of the often fatal earthquakes on the volcanic island of Ischia (Italy). Volcanic islands, such as Ischia in Italy, are often the scene of major natural disasters caused by earthquakes. But why is the earth shaking in Ischia? Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, the University of Roma Tre and the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV; Italy) have highlighted the phenomenon responsible for the periodic earthquakes that have struck the island of Ischia.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 12.12.2019
Ecotoxicological effects of pesticides in stream sediments
Ecotoxicological effects of pesticides in stream sediments
In small watercourses in Swiss agricultural catchments, pesticides pose an ecotoxicological risk. This was demonstrated by studies carried out in 2015 and 2017 under the National Surface Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NAWA SPEZ), where pesticide concentrations exceeded environmental quality standards for most of the study period.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 12.12.2019
Ecotoxicological effects of pesticides in stream sediments
Ecotoxicological effects of pesticides in stream sediments
In small watercourses in Swiss agricultural catchments, pesticides pose an ecotoxicological risk. This was demonstrated by studies carried out in 2015 and 2017 under the National Surface Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NAWA SPEZ), where pesticide concentrations exceeded environmental quality standards for most of the study period.

Earth Sciences - Materials Science - 06.12.2019
Gaining insight into the energy balance of earthquakes
Gaining insight into the energy balance of earthquakes
Researchers at EPFL's Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory and the Weizmann Institute of Science have modeled the onset of slip between two bodies in frictional contact. Their work, a major step forward in the study of frictional rupture, could give us a better understanding of earthquakes - including how far and fast they travel.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 20.11.2019
Stabilizing a cliff using biomineral binders
Stabilizing a cliff using biomineral binders
EPFL spin-off Medusoil has successfully tested its ground-stabilization process on cliffs subject to surface erosion. The company's biomineral-based solution can be used to stabilize sandy and gravelly subsoils to safeguard surrounding infrastructure. It is a long-lasting and easy-to-use alternative to industrial fluids - the production and use of which can be harmful to the environment.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 13.11.2019
Large storage potential in future ice-free glacier basins
Large storage potential in future ice-free glacier basins
Glaciologists at ETH Zurich and WSL assessed the global water storage and hydropower potential that could be freed up in future as glaciers melt in response to climate change. Global warming will cause substantial glacier retreat for the majority of the world's glaciers over the next few decades. This will not only spell the end for some magnificent natural monuments, but also importantly affect the water cycle.

Computer Science - Earth Sciences - 08.11.2019
Using AI to predict where and when lightning will strike
Using AI to predict where and when lightning will strike
Researchers at EPFL have developed a novel way of predicting lightning strikes to the nearest 10 to 30 minutes and within a radius of 30 kilometers. The system uses a combination of standard data from weather stations and artificial intelligence. Lightning is one of the most unpredictable phenomena in nature.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 25.10.2019
Mountain streams emit a surprising amount of CO2
Mountain streams emit a surprising amount of CO2
For the first time, an EPFL-led team of scientists has measured the total amount of CO2 emissions from mountain streams worldwide. This research builds on findings issued in February 2019 and shows how important it is to include mountain streams in assessments of the global carbon cycle. Mountains cover 25% of the Earth's surface, and the streams draining these mountains account for more than a third of the global runoff.

Earth Sciences - 14.10.2019
Clay minerals call the shots with carbon
Clay minerals call the shots with carbon
Clay minerals suspended in seawater binds sedimentary organic carbon to their mineral surfaces. But the quantity of carbon that is bound and the source of that carbon very much depends on the clay mineral in question. A research team from ETH Zurich and Tongji University have shown this by studying sediments in the South China Sea.
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