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Environment - 16.04.2021
Alpine plants are losing their white
Alpine plants are losing their white "protective coat"
Snow cover in the Alps has been melting almost three days earlier per decade since the 1960s. This trend is temperature-related and cannot be compensated by heavier snowfall. By the end of the century, snow cover at 2,500 meters could disappear a month earlier than today, as simulations by environmental scientists at the University of Basel demonstrate.

Environment - Agronomy / Food Science - 15.04.2021
From a Tweet to Forbes, The Diplomat and beyond
From a Tweet to Forbes, The Diplomat and beyond
Never did Jagannath Biswakarma think that a Tweet about one of his academic articles would receive attention from world-leading media outlets. Yet, that is exactly what happened and how his work was promoted internationally. Bioavailable iron is essential for all living organisms. Iron deficiency amongst plants influences agricultural production.

Environment - 14.04.2021
Ocean temperature reconstructed over the last 700,000 years
Ocean temperature reconstructed over the last 700,000 years
Researchers from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern reconstructed for the first mean ocean temperatures over the last 700,000 years using ice core data. The new knowledge serves to improve our understanding of the climate system. Bern's ice core researchers were already able to demonstrate in 2008 how the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has changed over the past 800,000 years.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 14.04.2021
How microbes influenced the Earth's atmosphere three billion years ago
How microbes influenced the Earth’s atmosphere three billion years ago
For a long time, climate researchers could not explain the high concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere around three billion years ago. Now an international research team with the participation of Hendrik Vogel from the Institute of Geological Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern has solved the mystery.

Environment - 13.04.2021
Tree hydraulics and water relations: why trees die as a result of drought
When trees die during a period of drought, they die of thirst. Researchers from the University of Basel have demonstrated in a field study that a rapid collapse in the hydraulic system is responsible for tree death. And they found out that the trees possibly die more rapidly than previously thought.

Environment - 31.03.2021
Carbon-neutral Biofuel from Lakes
Carbon-neutral Biofuel from Lakes
Lakes store huge amounts of methane. In a new study, environmental scientists at the University of Basel offer suggestions for how it can be extracted and used as an energy source in the form of methanol. Discussion about the current climate crisis usually focuses on carbon dioxide (CO2). The greenhouse gas methane is less well known, but although it is much rarer in the atmosphere, its global warming potential is 80 to 100 times greater per unit.

Environment - Life Sciences - 30.03.2021
Precisely determining toxic concentrations
Precisely determining toxic concentrations
Ecotoxicological tests need to be extremely accurate - which often poses challenges in research and practice. Eawag has now developed a computer model that enables even more accurate testing at high throughput; the model is simple, widely applicable and saves resources. How dangerous are chemicals that enter water bodies for aquatic life' To answer this question, tests are needed on organisms - or as is increasingly the case - on isolated cells, which can replace tests on organisms.

Environment - Social Sciences - 26.03.2021
Climate change significantly increases population displacement risk
Climate change significantly increases population displacement risk
The risk of people being forced from their homes by flooding increases by half for each additional degree of global warming, as an international research team led by the Weather and Climate Risks Group at ETH Zurich demonstrate. Every year, millions of people around the world are displaced from their homes due to severe weather caused by climate change.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 26.03.2021
AI provides debris flow warnings
AI provides debris flow warnings
When it comes to debris avalanches and mudslides, there is usually very little warning. Using seismic monitoring and machine learning, researchers from ETH Zurich and WSL have developed an alarm system that can provide early warning of debris flows at Illgraben. Debris flows are a mixture of boulders, sediments and water.

Environment - Chemistry - 24.03.2021
Aerosol formation in clouds
Aerosol formation in clouds
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have studied for the first time how chemical reactions in clouds can influence the global climate. They found that isoprene, the dominant non-methane organic compound emitted into the atmosphere, can strongly contribute to the formation of organic aerosols in clouds.

Environment - 22.03.2021
A new dye shakes up solar cells
A new dye shakes up solar cells
Scientists have developed a new dye for solar cells that enables high power-conversion efficiency while being simple and cheap to make. The dye also works exceptionally well under low-light conditions, which is key for selfand low-powered devices. In 1991, scientists Brian O'Regan and Michael Grätzel at EPFL published a seminal paper describing a new type of solar cell: the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), also known as "Grätzel cell".

Environment - Life Sciences - 17.03.2021
Artificial Light Affects Plant Pollination Even During the Daytime
Artificial Light Affects Plant Pollination Even During the Daytime
Streetlights alter the number of flower visits by insects not just at night, but also during the daytime. Artificial light at night thus indirectly affects the entire plant-pollinator community, with unknown consequences for functioning of the ecosystem, as researchers from the University of Zurich and Agroscope have proven for the first time.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 17.03.2021
Losing rivers
Losing rivers
ETH Zurich and University of California Santa Barbara researchers reveal the extent to which rivers across the USA are losing flow to aquifers. Water is an ephemeral thing. It can emerge from an isolated spring, as if by magic, giving birth to a babbling brook. It can also course through a mighty river, seeping into the soil until all that remains downstream is a dry streambed, the nearby trees offering the only hint as to where the water has disappeared.

Materials Science - Environment - 15.03.2021
Voltage from the parquet
Voltage from the parquet
Researchers at Empa and ETH Zurich have made wood compressible and turned it into a micro-generator. When it is loaded, an electrical voltage is generated. In this way, the wood can serve as a bio-sensor - or generate usable energy. The latest highlight: To ensure that the process does not require aggressive chemicals, naturally occurring wood-degrading fungi take over the task of modifying the wood.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 12.03.2021
Glaciers and enigmatic stone stripes in the Ethiopian Highlands
Glaciers and enigmatic stone stripes in the Ethiopian Highlands
Although past temperature variations in the tropics are of great importance to understanding the global climate system, little is known about their extent and chronological course. Researchers under the leadership of the University of Bern have now been able to demonstrate strong local cooling in the tropics during the last glacial period on the basis of glacier fluctuations and large stone stripes in the Ethiopian Highlands.

Astronomy / Space Science - Environment - 11.03.2021
How the habitability of exoplanets is influenced by their rocks
How the habitability of exoplanets is influenced by their rocks
The weathering of silicate rocks plays an important role to keep the climate on Earth clement. Scientists led by the University of Bern and the Swiss national center of competence in research (NCCR) PlanetS, investigated the general principles of this process. Their results could influence how we interpret the signals from distant worlds - including such that may hint towards life.

Environment - Agronomy / Food Science - 11.03.2021
Targeted Imports and Less Food Waste Reduce 'Foodprint'
Targeted Imports and Less Food Waste Reduce ’Foodprint’
How can the environmental impact of our food be reduced? Agroscope calculated that the environmental impact can be improved if food is imported from countries of origin with especially environmentally friendly agricultural production systems. The avoidance of food loss and waste is even more effective in achieving this aim.

Environment - Health - 11.03.2021
Rare earth elements in wastewater
Rare earth elements in wastewater
Rare earth metals such as cerium and gadolinium are increasingly entering wastewater from industry, but also from hospitals. This is shown by Eawag's investigations at 63 wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland. Today, almost nothing works without rare earth metals. There would be no smartphones, flat screens, LED lamps, rechargeable batteries, electric motors and many other electronic devices.

Environment - 11.03.2021
Climate change influences river flow
River flow has changed significantly worldwide in recent decades. An international research team led by ETH Zurich has now demonstrated that it is climate change, rather than water and land management, that plays a crucial role at a global level. Climate change is affecting the water balance of our planet: depending on the region and the time of year, this can influence the amount of water in rivers potentially resulting in more flooding or drought.

Environment - Materials Science - 04.03.2021
Energy house-keeping
Energy house-keeping
Energy management in a house with a solar system is becoming increasingly complex: When do I turn on the heating so that it is nice and cosy in the evening? How much electricity can the hot water tank hold? Will there still be enough energy for the electric car? Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help solve the problem: Researchers at Empa developed an AI control system that can learn all these tasks - and save more than 25 percent energy in the process.

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