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Environment - Social Sciences - 24.01.2020
Climate change: how can we unleash citizen action?
Climate change: how can we unleash citizen action?
A researcher from the University of Geneva has synthesized two decades of scientific studies on climate change to identify the obstacles to behaviour change and find ways to overcome them. Why is it that more individual actions are not taken to combat climate change? What should be done to embolden individuals to act within their scope of action? To answer these questions, a researcher at the University of Geneva , Switzerland, integrated the results of the scientific literature on climate change in the framework of a Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) policy brief.

Environment - 21.01.2020
"Green economy": an ambiguous concept that is on the way out
Concerns about climate change have given rise to a whole series of concepts that are widely used despite their lack of a concrete definition. EPFL researchers have taken a closer look at the "green economy" concept in particular to clarify exactly what it means. Today's consumers want a cleaner, greener society.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 20.01.2020
The salt of the comet
The salt of the comet
Under the leadership of astrophysicist Kathrin Altwegg, Bernese researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured.

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.

Environment - 15.01.2020
Irrigation alleviates hot extremes
Irrigation alleviates hot extremes
Researchers from ETH Zurich and other universities found evidence that expanding irrigation has dampened anthropogenic warming during hot days, with particularly strong effects over South Asia. Large-scale irrigation is one of the land management practices with the largest effect on climate conditions - and especially hot extremes - in various regions across the globe.

Environment - Administration - 10.01.2020
Water governance: could less sometimes be more?
Water governance: could less sometimes be more?
Researchers from UNIGE and UNIL analysed water governance in six European countries from 1750 onwards. They demonstrated that there has been an inflationary trend in the number of regulations, and that - far from improving the situation - this has led to serious malfunctions in the system. The use of environmental resources has been regulated for centuries with the aim of improving the management and behaviour of private and public actors on an on-going basis.

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.

Environment - 03.01.2020
Fingerprint of climate change detected in daily weather
Fingerprint of climate change detected in daily weather
Climate researchers can now detect the fingerprint of global warming in daily weather observations at the global level. They are thus amending a long-established paradigm: weather is not climate ' but climate change can now be detected in daily weather. This research was carried out by ETH Zurich and the Swiss Data Science Center, co-directed by EPFL.

Environment - 02.01.2020
Climate signals detected in global weather
Climate signals detected in global weather
Searched for and found: climate researchers can now detect the fingerprint of global warming in daily weather observations at the global scale. They are thus amending a long-established paradigm: weather is not climate - but climate change can now be detected in daily weather. In October this year, weather researchers in Utah measured the lowest temperature ever recorded in the month of October in the US (excluding Alaska): -37.1C.

Environment - Transport - 23.12.2019
Capturing CO2 from trucks and reducing their emissions by 90%
Capturing CO2 from trucks and reducing their emissions by 90%
Researchers at EPFL have patented a new concept that could cut trucks' CO2 emissions by almost 90%. It involves capturing CO2 within the exhaust system, converting it into a liquid and storing it on the vehicle. The liquid CO2 would then be delivered to a service station and where it will be turned back into fuel using renewable energy.

Life Sciences - Environment - 20.12.2019
From rocket builders to tree planters
From rocket builders to tree planters
The year 2019 has certainly been a busy one at ETH. A new president took office and the second Sci-Tech Oscar was awarded, along with other major prizes, but there were also plenty of inventions and topics for discussion. The new year also ushered in a new era at ETH. The former director of PSI, Jol Mesot, took over the reins of the Executive Board as the new President of ETH Zurich with a sense of "great elation, drive and enthusiasm for this venerable institution".

Environment - Life Sciences - 17.12.2019
Rare species organize themselves into ghettos to survive
Rare species organize themselves into ghettos to survive
Researchers from UNIGE and Um show that to resist stronger species, rare animal and plant species group together in ghettos to help each other, maintaining biodiversity. How can you survive when your species has few representatives' An international team of researchers, led by the Universities of Ume (Sweden) and Geneva (UNIGE, Switzerland), demonstrates that animal and plant communities are organized into ethnic neighbourhoods, where species in low abundance come together to strengthen their persistence against more competitive species.

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 - Chemistry - 11.12.2019
New material design tops carbon-capture from wet flue gases
New material design tops carbon-capture from wet flue gases
Chemical engineers at EPFL have designed a material that can capture carbon dioxide from wet flue gasses better than current commercial materials. Generally speaking, "flue gas" refers to any gas coming out of a pipe, exhaust, chimney etc. as a product of combustion in a fireplace, oven, furnace, boiler, or steam generator.

Environment - Life Sciences - 05.12.2019
Hybrids increase fish biodiversity in lakes of East Africa
Hybrids increase fish biodiversity in lakes of East Africa
When two individuals from different species mate, the offspring is known as a hybrid. As a result of the genomes being mixed, sometimes phenotypes are produced that deal with new environmental conditions better than the two parent species. Very often, hybrids are not able to reproduce, but there are quite a number of exceptions to this, including the cichlids.

Environment - Social Sciences - 02.12.2019
Improved health check for running waters
If one turns a stone over in a river or stream, it swarms with tiny animals: caddisflies, water beetles, freshwater shrimp, and snails. The invertebrates living on the beds of water bodies that can be seen with the naked eye, called macroinvertebrates, are rather unimposing, but for science and the protection of surface waters they are of great importance.

Environment - Politics - 02.12.2019
What's driving erosion worldwide?
What’s driving erosion worldwide?
ETH Zurich researchers are reexamining the causes of soil erosion around the world - and have found that countries themselves have a surprisingly strong influence on their soil. This country effect was previously undetected. Soil erosion is a global problem that threatens food security and the functioning of ecosystems.

Environment - 20.11.2019
When grown right, palm oil can be sustainable
When grown right, palm oil can be sustainable
Turning an abandoned pasture into a palm tree plantation can be carbon neutral, according to a new study by EPFL and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).

Environment - Innovation - 15.11.2019
EPFL creates a solar cooker with solid potential in Switzerland
EPFL creates a solar cooker with solid potential in Switzerland
EPFL scientists have developed a glass-paneled solar cooker that delivers exceptional performance. Their patented design can operate an average of 155 days a year in Switzerland's cloudiest regions and up to 240 days in its sunniest. Solar cookers - or solar-powered ovens - can be used to cook foods at low temperatures (60-120C) for anywhere from 30 minutes up to four hours.
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