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Environment - Life Sciences - 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 - 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.

Life Sciences - Environment - 22.10.2018
Facilitating handwashing where water is scarce
Facilitating handwashing where water is scarce
Even though the water we've used for washing our hands is barely contaminated, it usually disappears down the drain, never to be used again. A newly developed system allows handwashing water to be recycled, thus not only saving water, but also helping to prevent infectious diseases in developing countries.

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.

Environment - 17.10.2018
Why the Little Ice Age ended in the middle of the 19th century
Why the Little Ice Age ended in the middle of the 19th century
Analysis of ice cores delivers continuous data for the first time on industrial soot from 1740 to today In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth's climate. It was a natural process that caused Alpine glaciers to grow and subsequently recede again during the final phase of the so-called Little Ice Age.

Environment - 15.10.2018
Saving water - but not at any cost
Saving water - but not at any cost
Global trade is saving water on balance. In principle, this is a good thing. However, the water budget has its dark side - a fact which Eawag researchers have now brought to light. Virtual water is the term used to describe water that is used in the production of a product. The amount used varies according to the place where the products are produced.

Environment - Life Sciences - 09.10.2018
Improving paleotemperature reconstruction: Swiss lakes as a model system
Improving paleotemperature reconstruction: Swiss lakes as a model system
For years, scientists have been trying to determine the climate of the past in order to make better predictions about future climate conditions. Now, there has been a breakthrough in the methodology of climate reconstruction based on microbial molecular fossils. Researchers under the direction of the University of Basel analyzed sediment samples collected from more than 30 Swiss lakes.

Environment - 05.10.2018
Species-Rich Forests Store Twice as much Carbon as Monocultures
Species-Rich Forests Store Twice as much Carbon as Monocultures
Species-rich subtropical forests can take up on average twice as much carbon as monocultures. An international research team has evaluated data from forests grown specifically for this purpose in China with a total of over 150,000 trees. The results speak in favor of using many different tree species during reforestation.

Environment - Computer Science / Telecom - 04.10.2018
Satellite pictures reveal the condition of lakes
Satellite pictures reveal the condition of lakes
When does the poisonous blue alga reach its critical point and how does the lake react to heat waves' In the future, satellite pictures will answer these questions in real time. This is demonstrated by an Eawag researcher's new dataset. Hardly any other ecosystem is more strongly affected by environmental changes than fresh-water lakes.

Environment - 27.09.2018
Centralised or decentralised - that is the question
Centralised or decentralised - that is the question
Dealing with wastewater right where it is being produced, instead of in central treatment plants, can be more flexible and economical depending on the location. In Switzerland, however, there are very few such decentralised wastewater treatment plants - although, as Eawag researchers have established, there is a surprisingly strong market potential for them.

Life Sciences - Environment - 25.09.2018
Genome Duplication Drives Evolution of Species
Genome Duplication Drives Evolution of Species
Many wild and cultivated plants arise through the combination of two different species. The genome of these so-called polyploid species often consists of a quadruple set of chromosomes - a double set for each parental species - and thus has about twice as many genes as the original species. About 50 years ago, evolutionary biologists postulated that this process drives evolution, leading to new species.

Environment - 20.09.2018
Preserving Chile's water with solar-powered robots
Preserving Chile's water with solar-powered robots
EPFL researchers have developed floating, solar-powered robots to help protect Chile's water reservoirs. These low-cost robots can be assembled together in a variety of ways on the water surface to prevent the water from evaporating - thereby preserving a precious resource in this arid country and one that's crucial to its biggest industry: winemaking.

Life Sciences - Environment - 13.09.2018
New fish species discovered in the Bernese Oberland
New fish species discovered in the Bernese Oberland
In Lakes Thun and Brienz, evolutionary biologists from Eawag and Bern University have discovered a new whitefish species. The species, provisionally named "Balchen2", is clearly differentiated - morphologically, ecologically and genetically - from the five Lake Thun whitefish species previously described.
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