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Environment - Innovation - 17.05.2018
Nine in one swoop
Nine in one swoop
Atmospheric pollutants put a strain on the environment and harbor health hazards for humans. The Empa spin-off MIRO Analytical Technologies developed a technology to simultaneously analyze nine greenhouse gases and pollutants with only one device and at an unprecedented speed and precision. Air pollution is a problem that affects us all.

Environment - 02.05.2018
Reducing inputs of plant protection products into watercourses
Reducing inputs of plant protection products into watercourses
How can we reduce inputs of plant protection products from agricultural areas into streams and rivers' Experts working in agricultural and surface-water research have undertaken a qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness and practicability of various measures. Watercourses in catchment areas with a high level of agricultural use are often heavily polluted with plant protection products (PPPs) - especially small rivers and streams.

Environment - 01.05.2018
Why public spaces in European cities are becoming homogenized
Why public spaces in European cities are becoming homogenized
European public spaces are becoming more original, but also more homogeneous. The author of an architecture thesis, written at EPFL, explains this paradox and calls on critics and public authorities to do something about it.

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.

Environment - 26.04.2018
Keeping the soil fit
Keeping the soil fit
Erosion, compaction and a loss of humus and biodiversity are afflicting the soil, thereby endangering the many services it offers for humans and the environment.

Environment - 24.04.2018
Designing urban energy systems based on the urban climate
Designing urban energy systems based on the urban climate
As cities grow at an ever-faster pace, concerns about global warming rise and fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, cities will have to adopt more sustainable energy solutions. EPFL researchers have developed a model that can be used to design urban energy systems by analyzing the building not as a standalone structure but as one piece in an urban puzzle.

Environment - Health - 23.04.2018
Frequent walking: from personal health to sustainable mobility
Frequent walking: from personal health to sustainable mobility
For his thesis, Derek Christie studied people who walk outdoors for more than one hour per day. Little research has been done into these frequent walkers, who could nevertheless help to shape public policies on mobility.

Environment - 20.04.2018
Non-natives consume less than native species
Non-natives consume less than native species
Amphipods play a key role in freshwater ecosystems. In her doctoral research at Eawag, biologist Chelsea Little discovered that invasive amphipod species consume much less leaf litter than native species. Aquatic life in freshwaters is strongly dependent on inputs of food resources from terrestrial ecosystems.

Environment - 19.04.2018
Switzerland needs nationwide soil mapping
Switzerland needs nationwide soil mapping
To use soil sustainably calls for detailed information about its properties. However, this is lacking for large areas of Switzerland. The National Research Programme "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68) is proposing a "Swiss soil information platform" and showing how soil mapping can be expedited by using digital methods.

Environment - Social Sciences - 16.04.2018
Identifying deficiencies in transboundary water protection
Identifying deficiencies in transboundary water protection
What is the contribution of upstream areas to micropollutant loads in the Rhine at Basel and Düsseldorf? How effectively do authorities and water suppliers collaborate on management and regulation across national boundaries' An interdisciplinary approach developed by Eawag scientists can help to identify deficiencies.

Environment - 10.04.2018
When Enemies Come to Help
When Enemies Come to Help
Interactions between organisms such as plants and animals can be found everywhere in nature. Anina Knauer and Florian Schiestl, a professor at UZH's Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, has taken a closer look at one such instance: the interaction between crab spiders and the buckler-mustard, a yellow flowering plant common in Europe.

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.

Life Sciences - Environment - 04.04.2018
Water quality reflected in trout genes
Water quality reflected in trout genes
Monitoring the effects of chemicals on environmental systems with many species has always been a challenge. On behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Eawag and the Ecotox Centre-EPFL investigated how the regulation of genes in fish and in single fish cells allow scientists to deduce water quality and fish health.

Environment - Chemistry - 20.03.2018
The world's first formic acid-based fuel cell
The world's first formic acid-based fuel cell
Scientists at EPFL and GRT Group have built the world's first integrated power supply unit that can produce electricity from formic acid, using a fuel cell in an energy-efficient, safe, cost-effective, and sustainable way.

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.

Environment - 12.03.2018
Accurately measuring embodied carbon in buildings
Accurately measuring embodied carbon in buildings
Embodied carbon in the construction industry is a major factor of climate change, but it is rarely measured accurately.

Environment - Life Sciences - 06.03.2018
Why rare plants are rare
Why rare plants are rare
Rare plant species suffer more from disease than commoner species. The fact that rare species are more susceptible to attack by micro-organisms living in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, may in fact be one of the reasons they are rare. Biologists have been trying to work out why some species are rare, while others are common, since Darwin's time and a new study from researchers at the University of Bern provides a possible answer.

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.

Environment - Life Sciences - 19.02.2018
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds - Just a Myth?
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds - Just a Myth?
How do fish end up in isolated bodies of water when they can't swim there themselves' For centuries, researchers have assumed that water birds transfer fish eggs into these waters - however, a systematic literature review by researchers at the University of Basel has shown that there is no evidence of this to date.

Environment - Health - 07.02.2018
Confirming the risks of pesticide use in Burkina Faso
Confirming the risks of pesticide use in Burkina Faso
Poor pesticide practices in Burkina Faso pose a threat to human health and the environment. An EPFL thesis has quantified this problem for the first time through an analysis of soil, water, sediment, vegetable and hair samples. Small-scale vegetable growers in Burkina Faso are unfamiliar with the proper use of pesticides and end up exposing both people and the environment to serious contamination risks.