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Chemistry - Environment - 13.10.2020
Using electric current to stabilize low-permeability soils
Using electric current to stabilize low-permeability soils
Scientists have developed a new approach to stabilizing clay soils. The method involves using a battery-like system to apply electric current to carbonate and calcium ions in order to promote soil consolidation. Their findings were published yesterday in Scientific Reports. According to figures released by the UN yesterday, natural disasters have killed more than 1.2 million people since 2000 and cost nearly $ 3 trillion.These pressing threats bring into sharp focus the need for new answers to the problem of soil stabilization.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 08.10.2020
Vaporised metal in the air of an exoplanet
Vaporised metal in the air of an exoplanet
An international team of researchers led by the National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS of the University of Bern and the University of Geneva studied the atmosphere of the ultra-hot exoplanet WASP-121b. In it, they found a number of gaseous metals. The results are a next step in the search for potentially habitable worlds.

Environment - Physics - 01.10.2020
Climate: Iodic acid influences cloud formation at the North Pole
Climate: Iodic acid influences cloud formation at the North Pole
An international team of scientists from EPFL, the Paul Scherrer Institute and Stockholm University has identified a novel driver of new aerosol particle formation in the Arctic during the summer to fall transition. The authors show that iodic acid is important for forming new particles which subsequently influence the formation of clouds and their radiative effect over the Arctic pack ice.

Materials Science - Environment - 29.09.2020
Filtering radioactive elements from water
Filtering radioactive elements from water
Some time ago, ETH researchers developed a filter membrane made out of whey proteins and activated carbon. In a new study, they now demonstrate just how efficient this membrane is at filtering radioactive elements from contaminated water. The nuclear accident in Fukushima remains etched into people's memories.

Environment - Life Sciences - 24.09.2020
Marine heatwaves are human made
Marine heatwaves are human made
Heatwaves in the world's oceans have become over 20 times more frequent due to human influence. This is what researchers from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bern are now able to prove. Marine heatwaves destroy ecosystems and damage fisheries. A marine heatwave (ocean heatwave) is an extended period of time in which the water temperature in a particular ocean region is abnormally high.

Environment - 23.09.2020
More effective monitoring of air quality
More effective monitoring of air quality
Air quality in Switzerland has improved but is still not good enough. To continue the monitoring of air pollutants which has taken place for many years in Dübendorf, canton Zurich, federal government has opened a new station as part of its National Air Pollution Monitoring Network (NABEL). As well as showing whether air pollution control measures are working, it will also be used as a platform for research activities on new measuring equipment or new air pollutants.

Environment - Health - 23.09.2020
Viruses could become harder to kill
Viruses could become harder to kill
A recent EPFL study shows that pathogenic viruses may be able to develop resistance to warm temperatures and some types of disinfectant. That - combined with global warming and more frequent and longer heat waves - could make it even harder to keep them from spreading.  We could soon see the day when people have to think twice before taking a swim in lakes hitherto considered healthy.

Environment - 22.09.2020
Optical Wi-Fi allows for ultrafast underwater communications
EPFL spin-off Hydromea has developed a miniature optical modem that can operate down to 6,000 meters below the ocean's surface. It is sensitive enough to collect data at very high speeds from sources more than 50 meters away. If you want to use a connected device underwater, you don't have many options.

Environment - Life Sciences - 21.09.2020
Biodiversity hypothesis called into question
Biodiversity hypothesis called into question
The trade-off between gleaners and exploiters does not explain the diversity of biological species in the way that scientists expected. Our understanding of biodiversity has to change. Aquatic organisms - and terrestrial ones - that do best when there is lots of food also do best when there is very little .

Chemistry - Environment - 21.09.2020
Better catalysts for a sustainable bioeconomy
Better catalysts for a sustainable bioeconomy
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and from ETH Zurich want to make so-called zeolites more efficient. Today, these compounds are already indispensable additives in the chemical industry and have been used as catalysts in oil refineries since the 1960s. Now, , the researchers advocate paying more attention to the classic zeolites.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 11.09.2020
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Phosphorus is essential for agriculture, yet this important plant nutrient is increasingly being lost from soils around the world. The primary cause is soil erosion, reports an international research team led by the University of Basel. The study Communications shows which continents and regions are most strongly affected.

Electroengineering - Environment - 10.09.2020
Transistor-integrated cooling for a more powerful chip
Transistor-integrated cooling for a more powerful chip
Researchers have created a single chip that combines a transistor and micro-fluidic cooling system. Managing the heat generated in electronics is a huge problem, especially with the constant push to reduce the size and pack as many transistors as possible in the same chip. The whole problem is how to manage such high heat fluxes efficiently.

Environment - 10.09.2020
Amphipods: a miraculous increase in biodiversity
Amphipods: a miraculous increase in biodiversity
Until recently, researchers assumed that Switzerland had around 20 native species of amphipods. Now, a project by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the University of Zurich has revealed that there are actually more than 40. It is always worth taking a closer look, because we can only protect the things that we know exist.

Environment - Agronomy / Food Science - 08.09.2020
Nationwide decline of threatened plant species in Switzerland
Nationwide decline of threatened plant species in Switzerland
The Swiss Flora is one of the richest and most diverse in Europe. However, more than 700 plant species are considered to be threatened. In a nationwide project over 400 volunteer botanists revisited known populations of all threatened and rare plant species in Switzerland and recorded their presence or absence.

Environment - 07.09.2020
A difficult year for forests, fields and meadows
A difficult year for forests, fields and meadows
The warm, dry summer of 2018 has left clear traces in various ecosystems. ETH Zurich researchers have found that if the climate continues to warm up, higher altitudes can also expect negative consequences in the future. It was - once again - an unusually hot year: in 2018, large parts of Europe were beset by an extremely hot and dry summer.

Environment - 27.08.2020
Protecting estuarine cities from rising sea levels
Protecting estuarine cities from rising sea levels
As climate change raises sea levels, estuarine cities are facing up to the dual threat of flooding and significant erosion. Research by a joint team from EPFL and the UNSW Sydney sheds new light on the hydrodynamic forces at play and paves the way for preventive strategies. Almost 60% of the global population lives near an estuary, and the list of estuarine cities features 21 of the world's 30 biggest urban centers, including New York and Tokyo.

Environment - Materials Science - 27.08.2020
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Blue-green algae are among the oldest living creatures on Earth and have perfected the use of sunlight over billions of years. Empa scientists have now equipped these humble unicellular organisms with semiconductor coatings to create mini power plants, which supply biofuels and are photocatalytically active in sunlight.

Life Sciences - Environment - 26.08.2020
Explosive diversification explained by network analysis
Explosive diversification explained by network analysis
Using genomic analyses of 100 cichlid species, scientists from Eawag and the University Bern, together with co-workers in Australia, the UK, Tanzania, Uganda and the US, have investigated the striking variation observed in cichlid fish speciation rates. Their findings show that exchanges of genetic variants between existing species dramatically accelerate the development of new species - given favourable ecological conditions.

Environment - 24.08.2020
Climate change and land use are accelerating soil erosion by water
Climate change and land use are accelerating soil erosion by water
Soil loss due to water runoff could increase greatly around the world over the next 50 years due to climate change and intensive land cultivation. This was the conclusion of an international team of researchers led by the University of Basel, which published the results from its model calculation in the scientific journal PNAS.

Environment - 20.08.2020
Anthropogenic CO2 increase is unprecedented
Anthropogenic CO2 increase is unprecedented
Even in earlier warm periods there were pulse-like releases of CO2 to the atmosphere. Today's anthropogenic CO2 rise, however, is more than six times larger and almost ten times faster than previous jumps in the CO2 concentration. This is the conclusion reached by a European research team led by the University of Bern.