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Environment - Earth Sciences - 23.05.2019
Source of new CFC emissions discovered
Source of new CFC emissions discovered
Since 2013, annual emissions of the banned chlorofluorocarbon CFC-11 have increased by around 7,000 metric tons from eastern China, according to a new study by an international team of scientists including Empa researchers, published in «Nature» today. The new discovery follows a finding in 2018 that emissions of this very important ozone-depleting substance had increased.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 15.04.2019
Necrophagy: a means of survival in the Dead Sea
Necrophagy: a means of survival in the Dead Sea
UNIGE researchers have found that bacteria can survive in the sediments of the Dead Sea at a depth of over 400 metres in spite of extreme conditions. Studying organic matter in sediments helps shed light on the distant past. What was the climate like? What organisms populated the Earth? What conditions did they live in? Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and the University of Lyon, France, have examined the sediments in the Dead Sea, where the salinity is without compare, making it one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

Earth Sciences - 08.04.2019
Melting Glaciers Causing Sea Levels to Rise at Ever Greater Rates
Melting Glaciers Causing Sea Levels to Rise at Ever Greater Rates
Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters, an international research team under the lead of UZH have now found.

Earth Sciences - 22.03.2019
How fluid viscosity affects earthquake intensity
How fluid viscosity affects earthquake intensity
A young researcher at EPFL has demonstrated that the viscosity of fluids present in faults has a direct effect on the force of earthquakes. Fault zones play a key role in shaping the deformation of the Earth's crust. All of these zones contain fluids, which heavily influence how earthquakes propagate.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 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.

Earth Sciences - Health - 28.01.2019
New method to determine how safe buildings are after an earthquake
New method to determine how safe buildings are after an earthquake
EPFL scientists have developed a new method for evaluating building safety after an earthquake, helping residents return to their homes more quickly. Deciding when it's safe for a building's residents to move back in after an earthquake is a major challenge and responsibility for civil engineers. Not only do they have to evaluate whether the building could collapse, but also whether it could withstand aftershocks of the same magnitude.

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.

History / Archeology - Earth Sciences - 26.11.2018
Even the ancient Romans were polluters
Even the ancient Romans were polluters
"We are polluting the rivers and the natural elements, and even ruining the very thing that is essential to life - the air." These words were not spoken by nature conservationists in the 21st century but flowed from the pen of the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder. In fact ancient history researchers agree today that even in Roman times the environment was being polluted - by unfiltered wastewater, the mining of metals such as iron or lead and clear-cutting of the forests.

Earth Sciences - 11.10.2018
Sediment bypass tunnels and biodiversity
Sediment bypass tunnels and biodiversity
Mountain rivers swollen by heavy rainfall deposit large amounts of sediment in reservoirs. To prevent the loss of storage capacity, some reservoirs are equipped with bypass tunnels which convey sediment-laden waters to downstream reaches. The fact that such tunnels offer ecological benefits as well as economic advantages was shown, for example, by a study carried out on the Solis reservoir in Graubünden.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 06.08.2018
Earthquakes can be attenuated by groundwater
Earthquakes can be attenuated by groundwater
Researchers from EPFL and the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris have found that the presence of pressurized fluid in surrounding rock can reduce the intensity of earthquakes triggered by underground human activities like geothermal energy production. Around 100,000 earthquakes are recorded worldwide every year, but not all are naturally occurring.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 06.08.2018
Tainted idyll: groundwater over-fertilising lagoon in Spain
Tainted idyll: groundwater over-fertilising lagoon in Spain
Lagoons are valuable natural habitats as well as being good for tourism. In the case of the "Mar Menor" in the Spanish province of Murcia, however, such large quantities of nutrients are entering the unique ecosystem via the groundwater that algal blooms are making swimming impossible. Working together with Eawag, Spanish researchers have been modelling the underground water flows in order to develop better cultivation and water management scenarios.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 25.06.2018
Striking the right balance between wind energy and biodiversity
Striking the right balance between wind energy and biodiversity
EPFL researchers have developed a simulator that can calculate the performance of wind farms over 30 years while also factoring in the need to preserve local biodiversity. Tested at a site in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, the simulator could be applied to the Swiss Jura region, which has a similar landscape.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 03.05.2018
Rumblings deep down in Mars
Rumblings deep down in Mars
On 5 May the lander 'InSight' will commence its journey to Mars from California. Its aim is to gather data to enable a better understanding of the formation and evolution of the Red Planet. One of the key instruments on the NASA mission is a seismometer, which was developed and built under the lead of France together with Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 30.04.2018
600 seismographs listen in on the Alps
600 seismographs listen in on the Alps
Switzerland coordinates an extensive network of 600 seismographs stretching from Perpignan to Prague.

Earth Sciences - 27.04.2018
Soils in Swiss nature reserves contain significant quantities of microplastics
Soils in Swiss nature reserves contain significant quantities of microplastics
It is one of the first research projects into the existence of microplastics in the soil: Scientists at the University of Bern investigated floodplain soils in Swiss nature reserves for microplastics - and made a find. They estimate, that there are around 53 tonnes of microplastics lying in the top five centimetres of the floodplain.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 10.04.2018
Arsenic and manganese contamination in Amazonia groundwater
Arsenic and manganese contamination in Amazonia groundwater
Faced with polluted river water, rural communities or aid agencies often drill groundwater wells to obtain water supplies. But data collected systematically for the first time in the Amazon basin show that this "solution" can create new problems: the groundwater may contain elevated concentrations of arsenic, manganese and aluminium - up to 70 times over the recommended limit in the case of arsenic, and up to 15 times for manganese.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.03.2018
Climate change drives mountain hares to higher altitudes
Climate change drives mountain hares to higher altitudes
A warming climate will shrink and fragment mountain hare habitat in the Swiss Alps. Populations are likely to decline as a result, concludes an international study led by the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL). Specialised species like the mountain hare, adapted to life at high altitudes, are particularly affected by climate change.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 07.03.2018
University of Basel tests camera for Mars rover
University of Basel tests camera for Mars rover
In 2020, the European Space Agency (ESA) is sending a rover into space to examine the surface of Mars for signs of life. Its on-board equipment includes a high-resolution camera developed in Switzerland, and researchers from the University of Basel are currently testing the camera's operation in an artificial Martian landscape.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 05.03.2018
Sacrificing ground floors can save lives
Sacrificing ground floors can save lives
Disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes and dam failures are rare but can have devastating consequences on a country. A thesis at EPFL has shown that appropriate construction methods can substantially reduce the impact of such catastrophic events. Davide Wüthrich, a PhD student at EPFL, has just finished his thesis on methods for reducing the damage caused when a wave hits a building.

Earth Sciences - 01.02.2018