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Earth Sciences - Environment - 26.11.2020
The Swiss Alps continue to rise
The Swiss Alps continue to rise
An international team of geologists, headed by members of the University of Bern, has shown for the first time that the Swiss Alps are being lifted faster than they are being lowered through erosion - and are thus growing even higher. To do this, the researchers quantified the erosion of the Alps with the help of isotopes measured in the sand of more than 350 rivers throughout the European Alps.

Earth Sciences - 25.11.2020
Almost like on Venus
Almost like on Venus
A team of international scientists has gained new insights into Earth's atmosphere of 4.5 billion years ago. Their results have implications for the possible origins of life on Earth. Four-and-a-half billion years ago, Earth would have been hard to recognise. Instead of the forests, mountains and oceans that we know today, the surface of our planet was covered entirely by magma - the molten rocky material that emerges when volcanoes erupt.

Earth Sciences - Computer Science - 23.11.2020
Safer geothermal energy thanks to supercomputers
Safer geothermal energy thanks to supercomputers
Make geothermal energy safer by using supercomputer simulations. That is the aim of the research project FASTER (Forecasting and Assessing Seismicity and Thermal Evolution in Geothermal Reservoirs) which involves Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), the Swiss Seismic Service (SED), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), and the Swiss National Centre for Scientific Computing (CSCS).

Earth Sciences - 05.11.2020
Crystals reveal the danger of sleeping volcanoes
Crystals reveal the danger of sleeping volcanoes
A new method shows that it's now possible to estimate the volume of magma stored below volcanoes providing essential information about the potential size of future eruptions. Most active volcanoes on Earth are dormant, meaning that they have not erupted for hundreds or even thousands of years, and are normally not considered hazardous by the local population.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 03.11.2020
Shortcuts lead to greater pesticide contamination
Shortcuts lead to greater pesticide contamination
In agricultural areas, large volumes of water from fields, roads and paths drain directly into streams via manholes and other forms of artificial drainage. These shortcuts also transport pesticides into surface waters - and, according to a new study, in significantly larger quantities than was previously assumed.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 29.10.2020
The influence of wind on underwater landslides in Lake Biel
The influence of wind on underwater landslides in Lake Biel
When the wind on Lake Biel blows from the south-west and it rains heavily, large quantities of sediment are washed out of the River Aare into the lake. Since the south-west wind also influences the circulation in the lake, the wind direction determines to a large extent where the sediment is deposited in the lake, namely along the eastern shore towards Biel - an important finding for identifying areas at risk of landslides.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 26.10.2020
Back to the future of climate
Back to the future of climate
Hot and humid: Using minerals from ancient soils, ETH researchers are reconstructing the climate that prevailed on Earth some 55 million years ago. Their findings will help them to better assess how our climate might look in the future. Between 57 and 55 million years ago, the geological epoch known as the Paleocene ended and gave way to the Eocene.

Earth Sciences - 21.10.2020
A new way of looking at the Earth's interior
A new way of looking at the Earth’s interior
Current understanding is that the chemical composition of the Earth's mantle is relatively homogeneous. But experiments conducted by ETH researchers now show that this view is too simplistic. Their results solve a key problem facing the geosciences - and raise some new questions. There are places that will always be beyond our reach.

Earth Sciences - 14.10.2020
Scientist gains fresh insight into the origins of earthquakes
The speed and intensity with which seismic waves propagate after an earthquake depend mainly on forces occurring deep inside the rocks along a fault line, according to a study by EPFL scientist François Passelègue. His sophisticated models are giving us fresh insight into the factors that can trigger an earthquake.  Sometimes barely noticeable, and at other times devasting, earthquakes are a major geological phenomenon which provide a stark reminder that our planet is constantly evolving.

Earth Sciences - Life Sciences - 09.10.2020
Bacteria in sediment continue to show effects of over-fertilisation
Bacteria in sediment continue to show effects of over-fertilisation
Whether a lake was once polluted with excess nutrients is reflected even decades later in the community of bacteria living on these nutrients in the sediment. However, there is still surprisingly little research into how microbes in the sediment cooperate. From a global perspective, lake sediments are important carbon sinks.

Earth Sciences - Computer Science - 22.09.2020
Thousands of seismometers on a single cable
Thousands of seismometers on a single cable
Fibre-optic cables are emerging as a valuable tool for geoscientists and glaciologists. They offer a relatively inexpensive way of measuring even the tiniest glacial earthquakes - plus they can also be used to obtain more accurate images of the geological subsurface in earthquake-prone megacities. Today's fibre-optic cables move data at tremendous speeds, enabling us to stream films and TV shows in HD or even 8K resolution.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 17.09.2020
Detaching and uplifting, not bulldozing
Detaching and uplifting, not bulldozing
Researchers have used a computer model to test a new hypothesis about the formation of the Alps while simulating seismic activity in Switzerland. This will help improve current earthquake risk models. For a long time, geoscientists have assumed that the Alps were formed when the Adriatic plate from the south collided with the Eurasian plate in the north.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 11.09.2020
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Phosphorus is essential for agriculture, yet this important plant nutrient is increasingly being lost from soils around the world. The primary cause is soil erosion, reports an international research team led by the University of Basel. The study Communications shows which continents and regions are most strongly affected.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 28.08.2020
Space debris observed for the first time during the day
Space debris observed for the first time during the day
Researchers at the University of Bern are the first in the world to succeed in determining the distance to a space debris object using a geodetic laser in daylight. The distance was determined on June 24, 2020 at the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald. The number of measurements can be multiplied thanks to the new possibility of observing space debris during the day.

Earth Sciences - 24.07.2020
Lockdown reduces seismic noise worldwide
Lockdown reduces seismic noise worldwide
Research recently published in the journal "Science" has shown that lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 lead to a 50% reduction in seismic noise observed around the world in early to mid-2020. By analysing month-to-years long datasets from over 300 seismic stations around the world, the study, led by Thomas Lecocq from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, was able to show how the seismic noise decreased in many countries and regions since the start of the lockdown measures.

Earth Sciences - 20.07.2020
The Venus 'ring of fire'
The Venus ’ring of fire’
Researchers used computer simulations to classify the current activity of corona structures on the surface of Venus. To their surprise, they found a previously undiscovered ring of fire on our neighbouring planet. Years ago, planetary researchers discovered unusual circular structures on the surface of Venus when observing high-resolution images from NASA's Magellan mission.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 16.07.2020
New map for radioactive soil contamination in Western Europe
New map for radioactive soil contamination in Western Europe
An international consortium of scientists has refined the map of caesium and plutonium radionuclide concentrations in soils in Switzerland and several neighbouring countries. Using an archive of European soil samples, the team led by Katrin Meusburger from the University of Basel, now at the WSL research institute, was able to trace the sources of radioactive fallout between 1960 and 2009.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 07.07.2020
1.5 Billion People Will Depend on Water from Mountains
1.5 Billion People Will Depend on Water from Mountains
Global water consumption has increased almost fourfold in the past 100 years, and many regions can only meet their water demand thanks to essential contributions from mountain regions.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 01.07.2020
Making geothermal energy safer through simulation
Making geothermal energy safer through simulation
Researchers from the Swiss Seismological Service SED and ETH Zurich are working with the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre CSCS to develop a way of utilising geothermal energy safely with the help of supercomputers. According to Switzerland's Energy Strategy 2050, the plan is for deep geothermal energy to contribute to the expansion of renewable energies in the country.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 30.06.2020
Climate change is altering terrestrial water availability
Climate change is altering terrestrial water availability
The amount and location of available terrestrial water is changing worldwide. An international research team led by ETH Zurich has now proved for the first time that human-induced climate change is responsible for the changes observed in available terrestrial water. Water is the lifeblood of ecosystems and one of the most important natural resources for human beings.