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Environment - Social Sciences - 19.12.2018
Gaming route leads to solid results
Gaming route leads to solid results
Should a wind farm be built in a particular region, or is the integrity of the landscape a more important consideration? How should the wastewater infrastructure be designed in the future? Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is a recognised tool for weighing up such environmental questions, and an important stage of the methodology is to ascertain the preferences of those involved: What is important to them when making their decision? What g

Materials Science - Environment - 15.12.2018
The wood magician
The new head of Empa's Cellulose & Wood Materials lab, Gustav Nyström, has taken everyone by surprise by setting unconventional goals. However, paper batteries and nanocellulose sensors have one main objective: to help solve fundamental, socially relevant questions. When Gustav Nyström sees a tree, he sees more than just a biological marvel.

Environment - 05.12.2018
Bringing La Buvette d'Evian back to life
Bringing La Buvette d'Evian back to life
In a new book, EPFL researchers trace the history of La Buvette d'Evian - a former lakeside refreshment area that is also an icon of modern architecture. With some light renovation work, La Buvette could reinvigorate the entire region. The book launch will take place on 6 December at EPFL. For over 40 years, tourists and people with kidney ailments came to La Buvette d'Evian for the healing properties of the region's water.

Innovation - Environment - 04.12.2018
The future energy system and
The future energy system and "Power-to-X"
In a joint research project involving five Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCERs), scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Empa, ETH Zurich, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the Rapperswil University of Applied Sciences (HSR), the University of Geneva and the University of Lucerne have drawn up a White Paper entitled "Power-to-X" for the Swiss Federal Energy Research Commission (CORE).

Environment - Life Sciences - 03.12.2018
Surprising discovery of pollutants in gammarids
Surprising discovery of pollutants in gammarids
The water in Swiss streams is contaminated with numerous micropollutants. However, very little research has been carried out to determine how these trace substances affect organisms in bodies of water. An Eawag research group has been able to show for the first time on a large scale that such trace substances accumulate in gammarids and possibly have a negative effect on them.

Materials Science - Environment - 02.12.2018
Rotten to the core
Rotten to the core
Fungi that decompose tree trunks can conjure up real works of art in wood. In nature, however, the decay-causing fungi not only decorate the tree, but also destroy it. Empa researchers are now teaching the fungi how to draw. The result: upscale marbled wood that can be processed into design furniture or musical instruments.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 29.11.2018
The polar regions communicate via postcards and text messages
The polar regions communicate via postcards and text messages
A new study found two types of climatic connection between the North Atlantic and Antarctica. One is a rapid atmospheric channel and the other a much slower connection through the ocean. During the last glacial period, these links resulted in abrupt climatic changes - and could so again in future. In a study just published in the journal "Nature", an international team of researchers describes how an ocean current repeatedly strengthening and weakening again 60,000 to 12,000 years ago led to an extremely sudden change in the climate.

Environment - 29.11.2018
Connected urban planners can better serve city residents
Connected urban planners can better serve city residents
By comparing the cities of Geneva and Singapore, a thesis found that urban planners can reap multiple benefits by better leveraging digital technology.

Environment - 22.11.2018
How we can get more out of our forests
How we can get more out of our forests
Most European forests are primarily used for timber production. However, woodlands also offer spaces for recreation and they store carbon but it is not clear how forests can be managed for these multiple benefits. A new study under the direction of the University of Bern is now showing how forestry can be improved so that wooded areas can fulfill as many services as possible.

Environment - 16.11.2018
Flows of carbon between ecosystems
Flows of carbon between ecosystems
The scene may be familiar from natural history documentaries - a migrating herd of wildebeest attempt to cross a raging river, with many of the creatures drowning in the process - but what viewers do not generally notice is that large amounts of carbon are thereby transported from a grassland to an aquatic ecosystem.

Environment - Administration - 13.11.2018
Climate Scenarios CH2018: the warming continues
Climate Scenarios CH2018: the warming continues
Switzerland is becoming drier, hotter and less snowy, and will struggle with heavier rainfall in the future - these are the conclusions reached by climate researchers from MeteoSwiss and ETH Zurich.

Environment - Life Sciences - 08.11.2018
Biodiversity: Does the dispersion of species always follow the same rules?
Biodiversity: Does the dispersion of species always follow the same rules?
It is common among many species for individuals to move around during their lifetime in order to settle in better adapted habitats, a process known as dispersion by ecologists. In order to improve scientific predictions of the future of biodiversity in the face of global changes (such as climate change, landscape fragmentation and biological invasions) it is very important to understand the mechanisms of dispersion, which modulates the adaptation of species to their environment.

Life Sciences - Environment - 08.11.2018
Exploiting Epigenetic Variation for Plant Breeding
Exploiting Epigenetic Variation for Plant Breeding
Epigenetic changes can bring about new traits without altering the sequence of genes. This may allow plants to respond quicker to changes in their environment. Plant biologists at the University of Zurich have now demonstrated that epigenetic variation is also subject to selection and can be inherited.

Environment - Life Sciences - 08.11.2018
DNA fragments reveal the variety of species in rivers
DNA fragments reveal the variety of species in rivers
Bits of genetic material in rivers make it possible to detect the organisms living in them - without having to collect these and examine them under the microscope. Researchers at Eawag, the ETH and the EPFL have now developed a computer model that with the help of single DNA measurements even simulates exactly where and how often the species are present in bodies of water.

Environment - 06.11.2018
Tracking an ozone killer
Tracking an ozone killer
35,000 tons of undeclared carbon tetrachloride (CCl 4 ) are released into our atmosphere every year - although applications in which this substance is released into the environment have been officially banned by the Montreal Protocol since 2010. So where does this environmental pollutant come from? Empa researchers tracked down carbon tetrachloride and found the possible sources.

Environment - Life Sciences - 06.11.2018
DNA fragments reveal the variety of species in rivers
DNA fragments reveal the variety of species in rivers
Every living thing leaves behind tiny traces of its genetic material, for example in the form of dead skin cells or excrement. If one now takes water samples and decodes the environmental DNA (also known as eDNA) therein, one knows which species cavort in which waters. One thus discovers rare species that literally fall through the net during normal testing.

Life Sciences - Environment - 05.11.2018
Small Genetic Differences Turn Plants into Better Teams
Small Genetic Differences Turn Plants into Better Teams
Diverse communities of plants and animals typically perform better than monocultures. However, the mechanisms that are responsible for this have so far been a mystery to science. Biologists have now been able to identify the genetic cause of these effects. Their findings might help to improve crop yield.

Environment - 30.10.2018
Calculating Switzerland's energy carbon footprint more accurately
Calculating Switzerland's energy carbon footprint more accurately
By developing a method for calculating the carbon footprint of energy used in Switzerland on an hourly basis rather than as a yearly average, EPFL researchers have shed important light on an otherwise obscure industry. Despite recent advances in power grid technology, engineers still struggle to measure the carbon footprint of one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy used in Switzerland.

Environment - Health - 24.10.2018
Air Pollution and Noise Increase Risk for Heart Attacks
Air Pollution and Noise Increase Risk for Heart Attacks
Air pollution and transportation noise are both associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. Studies on air pollution, which do not take into account traffic noise, tend to overestimate the long-term effect of air pollution on heart attacks. These are the results of a study conducted by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and published today in the European Heart Journal.

Environment - 18.10.2018
Biodiversity Can Also Destabilize Ecosystems
Biodiversity Can Also Destabilize Ecosystems
According to the prevailing opinion, species-rich ecosystems are more stable against environmental disruptions such as drought, hot spells or pesticides. The situation is not as simple as it seems, however, as ecologists have now discovered. Under certain environmental conditions, increased biodiversity can also lead to an ecosystem becoming more unstable.
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