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Physics - Environment - 20.03.2019
Precision work for large molecules
Precision work for large molecules
Quantum cascade lasers are able to measure the smallest molecules with high precision. But the technology has failed to measure larger gas molecules - until now! Empa researchers have succeeded in quantifying ethanol, an important organic molecule, with the aid of such a laser. In collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), a team of researchers has successfully developed a method for determining the concentration of ethanol in a gas mixture with a very high proportion of water vapour and carbon dioxide.

Environment - 18.03.2019
Researchers make a key discovery on how alpine streams work
Researchers make a key discovery on how alpine streams work
An EPFL study has showed that until now, scientists have been substantially underestimating how quickly gases are exchanged between mountain streams and the atmosphere. Based on research in the Swiss cantons of Vaud and Valais, an EPFL laboratory has shed new light on the role of mountain streams to emit greenhouse gases.

Environment - 07.03.2019
The deep Southern Ocean is key to more intense ice ages
The deep Southern Ocean is key to more intense ice ages
Over the last million years, ice ages have intensified and lengthened. According to a study led by the University of Bern, this previously unexplained climate transition coincides with a diminution of the mixing between deep and surface waters in the Southern Ocean. The study confirms that the Antarctic region plays a crucial role during periods of climate change.

Environment - 04.03.2019
Agriculture impacts aquatic macroinvertebrates more than wastewater
Agriculture impacts aquatic macroinvertebrates more than wastewater
Community wastewater treatment plants and agricultural practices are the primary sources of pollution in rivers and streams, and affect aquatic communities. Substances such as traces of pharmaceuticals, nutrients, biocides, resistant bacteria and heavy metals find their way into the watercourses from wastewater treatment plants, while agriculture is primarily responsible for inputs of plant treatment agents, fine sediments and nutrients.

Innovation / Technology - Environment - 27.02.2019
Building digitally, living digitally
Building digitally, living digitally
DFAB HOUSE has officially opened today on the NEST building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf. It is the world's first inhabited "house" that was not only digitally planned, but also - with the help of robots and 3D printers - built largely digitally. The construction technologies were developed by ETH Zurich researchers in collaboration with industrial partners.

Environment - Life Sciences - 26.02.2019
Evolution and the tipping points of ecosystems
Evolution and the tipping points of ecosystems
Since the 20th century, observations have been made all over the world of shallow lakes which remain clear for years despite increasing nutrient inputs, but then abruptly transition to being turbid - and remain in this state for years beyond when nutrient inputs are reduced. Clear lake becomes turbid "Shallow lakes are a textbook example of tipping points in ecosystems", says Blake Matthews from the Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution at the aquatic research institute Eawag.

Environment - 20.02.2019
Floating research station to illuminate Lake Geneva
Floating research station to illuminate Lake Geneva
Our lakes are unique resources for us and for nature, providing water for drinking and irrigation, habitats for fish, plants and small animals, and space for relaxation and fun. But these sensitive ecosystems are under pressure. In addition to the problems associated with changing land use and inputs of nutrients and pollutants, climate change is also affecting the lakes in our Alpine regions.

Environment - 14.02.2019
Media and industry not always interested in the same topics
Media and industry not always interested in the same topics
Hardly a day went by in the summer of 2018 without a report on the continuing water scarcity at the time in Switzerland. Again and again, newspapers, radio and television were coming up with questions like: "How much water do nature, agriculture and people need?", "How can we find ways to save water?" and "Which regions have the least water reserves?" On the other hand, Swiss municipal governments, cantons, engineering firms, NGOs and public sector agencies appear to be less concerned with the relationship between water scarcity and water-saving measures.

Environment - Life Sciences - 13.02.2019
Fate of Meerkats Tied to Seasonal Climate Effects
Fate of Meerkats Tied to Seasonal Climate Effects
Does a drier and hotter climate present a threat to the meerkats in the Kalahari Desert? Researchers from UZH and Cambridge show that climate change is likely to impact meerkats, and seasonal rainfall and temperature will be the key factors. The effects of climate change are especially obvious in arid environments where resources are scarce and subject to seasonal availability.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 12.02.2019
"Better to dry a rocky planet before use"
Earth's solid surface and clement climate may be in part due to a massive star in the birth environment of the Sun. Without its radioactive elements injected into the early solar system, our home planet could be a hostile ocean world covered in global ice sheets. This is demonstrated by computer simulations in which the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS, based at the University of Bern, was involved.

Environment - Life Sciences - 11.02.2019
The search for Selenium: Traces in the high Alps
The search for Selenium: Traces in the high Alps
Up to a billion people around the world are deficient in selenium and do not get sufficient amounts in their diets. This is detrimental to health, as selenium plays an important role in the immune system and is involved in the formation of countless proteins in the body. Animal products and, most of all, grains contain a lot of selenium.

Physics - Environment - 04.02.2019
Precious metal tracks nanoplastics
Precious metal tracks nanoplastics
Tiny plastic particles measuring about 100 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre) are used in many products, for example to encapsulate dye or aromatic substances or as additives to shampoos and cosmetics. Many of them land directly in sewage as soon as the products are used. Together with other plastics, for example from tyre rubber in road run-off, they end up in the water-treatment plants.

Health - Environment - 31.01.2019
Scientifically Proven: Air Pollution Harms Health
Scientifically Proven: Air Pollution Harms Health
The debate on air quality standards for ambient air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and ozone has revived in Germany last week. The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and the Environment and Health Committee of the European Respiratory Society have now issued a statement on the debate of the effects of air pollution on health.

Life Sciences - Environment - 30.01.2019
A small fish provides insight into the genetic basis of evolution
A small fish provides insight into the genetic basis of evolution
A genetic analysis of sticklebacks shows that isolated populations in similar environments develop in comparable ways. The basis for this is already present in the genome of their genetic ancestors. Evolutionary biologists from the University of Basel and the University of Nottingham report these insights in the journal Evolution Letters.

Environment - 25.01.2019
Inequality promotes deforestation in Latin America
Inequality promotes deforestation in Latin America
Agricultural expansion is the main cause of deforestation in Latin America. Improvements in agricultural productivity can either enable forest conservation, or promote more deforestation. A new University of Bern study highlights the role played by inequality: high inequality leads to more deforestation, while lower inequality improves the long-term protection of remaining tropical forests.

Environment - 24.01.2019
Web application helps urban planners design cities
EPFL researchers have developed a web-based software program that takes a whole new approach to urban planning. Planners simply enter the various objectives they want to achieve - in terms of built density, quality of life, cost, use of renewable energy, etc. and the program generates the best possible variants for their city.

Environment - 07.01.2019
Producing more solar power in wintertime thanks to snow
Producing more solar power in wintertime thanks to snow
Installing photovoltaic panels in high mountains could significantly reduce the power deficit experienced by this renewable energy in winter, according to a joint study by the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and EPFL. The Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 reflects the decision to abandon nuclear power in the medium term.