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Environment - 17:02
Agriculture began in the Amazon 10'000 years ago
Agriculture began in the Amazon 10’000 years ago
As a new study shows, more than 10,000 years ago, people in the southwest of the Amazon began growing manioc and squash, 8,000 years earlier than previously thought. The area is thus one of the early Holocene centres of plant domestication in the world. People also changed the landscape by creating thousands of so-called forest islands.

Environment - 07.04.2020
Provision of adequate space for surface waters is essential
Provision of adequate space for surface waters is essential
A recent publication by Florian Altermatt, a research group leader at Eawag and Professor of Aquatic Ecology at the University of Zurich, began as an address to a gathering of legal experts.

Chemistry - Environment - 06.04.2020
How the chemical industry can meet the climate goals
How the chemical industry can meet the climate goals
ETH researchers analysed various possibilities for reducing the net CO2 emissions of the chemical industry to zero. Their conclusion? The chemical industry can in fact have a carbon-neutral future. Switzerland's Federal Council has decided that the country should become carbon-neutral by 2050. This may be challenging as far as car traffic and the entire power sector are concerned, but not impossible - with systematic electrification and the exclusive use of carbon-neutral energy sources, for example.

Health - Environment - 03.04.2020
Wastewater testing as a potential early warning system for waves of coronavirus
Wastewater testing as a potential early warning system for waves of coronavirus
You were already collecting wastewater samples in Ticino weeks ago - why? Christoph Ort (environmental engineer): We have many years of experience in the measurement of illicit drugs in wastewater.

Life Sciences - Environment - 01.04.2020
About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
Large open-water fish predators such as tunas or sharks hunt for prey more intensively in the temperate zone than near the equator. With this result, a study headed by Marius Roesti of the University of Bern is challenging a long-standing explanation for the distribution of biodiversity on our planet.

Environment - Life Sciences - 22.03.2020
A new tool for identifying climate-adaptive coral reefs
A new tool for identifying climate-adaptive coral reefs
Climate change is threatening the world's coral reefs, and saving them all will prove impossible. A team from EPFL has developed a method for identifying corals with the greatest adaptive potential to heat stress. The research, published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, should support improved and better-targeted marine biodiversity conservation strategies.

Environment - Innovation - 20.03.2020
Practical technologies for the global South
Practical technologies for the global South
The Tech4Dev program connects EPFL researchers with NGOs in order to develop technologies able to address specific needs in the global South and withstand local conditions. Four projects have been awarded grants following the first call for proposals. The global North and South have differing climates, economies and infrastructure.

Health - Environment - 16.03.2020
Better Understanding of Air Pollution and Health in Europe
Better Understanding of Air Pollution and Health in Europe
To date, air pollution represents the largest environmental risk to health. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is responsible for about one in every nine deaths annually. A new study by Swiss TPH used robust modelling methodology to estimate nitrogen dioxide levels in Europe through the combination of monitors, satellites and chemical transport models.

Chemistry - Environment - 13.03.2020
First-time direct proof of chemical reactions in particulates
First-time direct proof of chemical reactions in particulates
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a new method to analyse particulate matter more precisely than ever before. With its help, they disproved an established doctrine: that molecules in aerosols undergo no further chemical transformations because they are enclosed in other suspended particulate matter.

Health - Environment - 13.03.2020
Reducing the risk of infection
Reducing the risk of infection
Biology shows us that there are additional ways to reduce the risk of serious coronavirus infections, in addition to hand hygiene and keeping distance, Viola Vogel writes. We all know the importance of good hand hygiene and of keeping our distance if we want to protect ourselves and others from infection with the novel coronavirus.

Environment - 04.03.2020
Energy self-sufficient households by 2050?
Energy self-sufficient households by 2050?
Researchers from ETH Zurich investigated whether it would be technically and economically feasible for households to achieve energy self-sufficiency using photovoltaics alone in the temperate Swiss climate by the middle of the century. By 2050, photovoltaic technologies that convert sunlight into electricity could enable many singleand multi-family buildings in Switzerland to produce enough energy to meet their own consumption needs, including the charging of electric vehicles.

Environment - 02.03.2020
Directed Species Loss from Species-Rich Forests Strongly Decreases Productivity
Directed Species Loss from Species-Rich Forests Strongly Decreases Productivity
At high species richness, directed loss, but not random loss, of tree species strongly decreases forest productivity. This is shown by data from a big forest project in China in which the University of Zurich is involved. Previous studies based on random species loss could therefore bias the predictions of how more realistic extinction scenarios are likely to affect ecosystem functioning.

Environment - 25.02.2020
Investments by the super-rich drive deforestation
Wealthy individuals are increasingly investing in agriculture. Their investments boost production of plant-based raw materials for human consumption, industrial uses, and animal fodder. The resulting capital flows directly contribute to deforestation in the global South, especially in the tropics. That is the conclusion of a new study by the University of Bern's Centre for Development and Environment (CDE).

Environment - 18.02.2020
Climate change will disrupt existing energy systems
As climate changes and extreme weather events become more commonplace, we will need to fundamentally rethink how we produce renewable energy. Researchers at EPFL have developed a simulation method to reduce the adverse influences due to climate-related uncertainties in the energy sector and guarantee robust operation of energy infrastructure during extreme climate events.

Life Sciences - Environment - 10.02.2020
New world map of fish genetic diversity
New world map of fish genetic diversity
An international research team has studied genetic diversity among fish around the world for the first time. Their research produced a map that will serve as a tool in improving the protection of species and genetic diversity in the future. In a population of animals or plants, genetic diversity can decline much more quickly than species diversity in response to various stress factors: disease, changes to habitat or climate, and so on.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 10.02.2020
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Researchers from the University of Geneva have studied the seismic activity recorded during the drilling of a geothermal well and shown that it did not spark any major earthquake. Although stopping climate change is challenging, it is imperative to slow it down as soon as possible by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment - Business / Economics - 07.02.2020
Biodiversity yields financial returns
Biodiversity yields financial returns
Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land. This is the conclusion reached by an interdisciplinary research team including the fields of agricultural sciences, ecology and economics at ETH Zurich and other universities. Many farmers associate grassland biodiversity with lower yields and financial losses.

Environment - 05.02.2020
Our carbon footprint is highly impacted by how we live
Swiss households have excessively large carbon footprints. However, that footprint depends more on socio-economic status than location - whether the household is in the countryside or the city - because people travel more in the country but consume more in cities. Swiss households enjoy a high standard of living, but this results in a large carbon footprint.

Environment - Chemistry - 04.02.2020
Legacy effects of persistent organic pollutants
Legacy effects of persistent organic pollutants
Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), formerly widely used as a fungicide, is one of the so-called dirty dozen - the first twelve toxic chemicals whose use was banned worldwide in 2004 under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. However, due to its chemical structure, this compound is extremely stable and is only broken down very slowly in nature.

Environment - Physics - 03.02.2020
What if half of Switzerland's rooftops produced electricity?
Researchers at EPFL are assessing Switzerland's solar power potential. Their results show that photovoltaic panels could be installed on more than half of the country's 9.6 million rooftops. The resulting power would meet more than 40% of Swiss electricity demand. The widespread installation of photovoltaic panels on building rooftops could play an important role in Switzerland's transition to a low-carbon energy system.
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