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Environment - Life Sciences - 15.08.2018
Marine heatwaves are threatening ecosystems
Marine heatwaves are threatening ecosystems
Marine heatwaves can irreversibly damage ecosystems and, therefore, also present a threat to fishing. As a team led by physicist Thomas Frölicher from Bern showed in a study just published , the number of marine heatwaves has increased dramatically in past decades. This trend will further intensify as a result of climate change.

Environment - 15.08.2018
Pumped-storage hydropower: expansion and ecological limits
Pumped-storage hydropower: expansion and ecological limits
Eawag has studied how various pumped-storage hydropower scenarios affect temperature and water quality in the waterbodies concerned. In the case of Sihlsee, which serves as a reservoir for the SBB Etzelwerk plant, the question of withdrawal depth was found to be crucially important. The study also highlighted the fact that the assessment of environmental impacts largely depends on the definition of the reference state: whereas in natural lakes water is discharged from the surface, in reservoirs it is withdrawn from the lower layer.

Environment - Life Sciences - 09.08.2018
Water quality: new insights thanks to a more efficient integrated approach
Water quality: new insights thanks to a more efficient integrated approach
The development of novel, less costly analytical methods is of crucial importance in addressing the issue of micropollutants in surface waters. This was one of the main goals of EDA-EMERGE, an EU-funded programme in which Eawag also participated. While increasing numbers of chemicals are entering surface waters, routine monitoring in Switzerland and the EU focuses on a relatively small number of compounds.

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 - Materials Science - 03.08.2018
The subtle mechanics of an avalanche - as seen in 3D
Drawing on the fact that the snow in an avalanche can behave like both a solid and a fluid, a young researcher at EPFL and SLF has managed to simulate a snow slab avalanche with unrivaled precision. An avalanche is an extremely complex event, with countless parameters and physical variables coming into play from the time the avalanche is triggered until it ends.

Environment - Life Sciences - 26.07.2018
Soil bugs munch on plastics
Thin mulch films made of polyethylene are used in agriculture in numerous countries, where they cause extensive soil contamination. Researchers at ETH Zurich and Eawag have now identified an alternative: films made of the polymer PBAT biodegrade in soils. Our world is drowning in a flood of plastic.

Environment - Astronomy / Space Science - 19.07.2018
Aquatic research from an altitude of 800 km
Aquatic research from an altitude of 800 km
Thanks to Copernicus - the EU Earth Observation Programme initiated in 2014 - environmental researchers now have access to vast amounts of high-quality satellite data. As this is also invaluable for aquatic research, Eawag is currently expanding its capacity in the area of remote sensing. "That's probably the most successful proposal I've ever made!" says Professor Johny Wüest, his eyes sparkling.

Environment - 17.07.2018
Throwing shade on shade balls
Throwing shade on shade balls
Black plastic balls, which aim to reduce evaporation losses from open-air reservoirs under drought conditions, are not quite as efficient as previously assumed. Considerable quantities of water are already used in their production. Eawag researcher Dr. Erfan Haghighi has taken a close look at the water footprint of the shade balls together with his colleagues from Imperial College London and University of Twente.

Environment - Life Sciences - 12.07.2018
Glyphosate eliminated by cyanobacteria
Glyphosate eliminated by cyanobacteria
Researchers from Agroscope and Eawag have discovered that, under certain conditions, the herbicide glyphosate is rapidly degraded in Lake Greifen (Greifensee). The evidence strongly suggests that this is due to cyanobacteria using the substance as an alternative source of phosphorus. Glyphosate is frequently in the headlines: expert committees disagree as to whether the herbicide is carcinogenic to humans, authorities debate whether its use should be approved.

Life Sciences - Environment - 11.07.2018
Drones survey African wildlife
Drones survey African wildlife
In collaboration with a nature reserve in Namibia, researchers are developing a new approach to counting animals: combining drone flights and automated image analysis. A new technique developed by Swiss researchers enables fast and accurate counting of gnu, oryx and other large mammals living in wildlife reserves.

Chemistry - Environment - 29.06.2018
Cleaner emissions thanks to sponge-like structure
Cleaner emissions thanks to sponge-like structure
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen, Switzerland, have developed a new catalytic converter for cleaning emissions from natural gas engines. In contrast to previous catalytic converters, it is very active even at low temperatures and remains that way over a long period of time. This makes it possible to burn natural gas in a cleaner and more climate-friendly way.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 25.06.2018
Where Medical Technology and Astrophysics Meet
Where Medical Technology and Astrophysics Meet
At the University of Bern, astrophysicists of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) teamed up with medical technology researchers to develop a new method to analyse spectra of atmospheres of planets beyond our solar system. The unusual collaboration applied an artificial intelligence tool to study the chemistry of exoplanetary atmospheres.

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.

Environment - 21.06.2018
Tall trees are crucial for the survival of the Amazon rainforest
Tall trees are crucial for the survival of the Amazon rainforest
An EPFL study has shown that Amazonian trees measuring more than 30 meters are more resistant to precipitation variations than other, shorter trees. This information is key to more accurately predicting how the rainforest, which is an important component of the carbon cycle, will react to climate change.

Life Sciences - Environment - 20.06.2018
Spores archive antibiotic resistance
Spores archive antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance is widespread in bacteria spores and preserved for years, as shown by experiments at Eawag and the University of Neuchâtel. When living conditions for bacteria are unfavourable, some species make spores, which are able to survive for a long time under harsh conditions and be dispersed to other places.

Environment - Life Sciences - 19.06.2018
Palm oil: the carbon cost of deforestation
Palm oil: the carbon cost of deforestation
Palm oil has become part of our daily lives, but a recent study by EPFL and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) serves as a reminder that intensive farming of this crop has a major impact on the environment. Both shortand long-term solutions exist, however. Indonesia and Malaysia together account for nearly 85% of global palm oil production.

Environment - Materials Science - 15.06.2018
Bringing the heat out of the city
Bringing the heat out of the city
Heat waves are increasing worldwide - and that includes Switzerland. Cities in particular suffer as a result: the temperature difference between city and countryside can amount to several degrees.

Environment - 14.06.2018
Reduction of Environmental Impacts of Plant Protection Products Is Possible
Reduction of Environmental Impacts of Plant Protection Products Is Possible
Zurich-Reckenholz, 14.06.2018 - Agroscope researchers investigated the risks and environmental impacts of plant-protection products (PPPs) in Switzerland's main agricultural crops. They found that a targeted selection of active substances and systematic adherence to the principles of integrated plant protection can significantly reduce the risks and undesirable environmental impacts of PPPs.

Materials Science - Environment - 11.06.2018
Silicon-perovskite solar cells achieve record efficiency of 25,2%
Silicon-perovskite solar cells achieve record efficiency of 25,2%
In Neuchâtel (Switzerland), researchers from EPFL and CSEM have combined siliconand perovskite-based solar cells. The resulting efficiency of 25.2% is a record for this type of tandem cell. Their innovative yet simple manufacturing technique could be directly integrated into existing production lines, and efficiency could eventually rise above 30%.