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Environment - Innovation - 15.05.2024
Using solar energy to generate heat at high temperatures
Using solar energy to generate heat at high temperatures
Instead of burning coal or oil to produce cement or steel, in the future solar energy could be used for this purpose. Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a thermal trap that can absorb concentrated sunlight and deliver heat at over thousand degrees Celsius. The production of cement, metals and many chemical commodities requires extremely high temperatures of over a thousand degrees Celsius.

Life Sciences - Environment - 14.05.2024
Portable method lets scientists identify plant DNA out in the field
Portable method lets scientists identify plant DNA out in the field
In EPFL's GenoRobotics project, a cross-disciplinary team of students is developing a novel method for identifying plant DNA - one that's faster, cheaper and less energy-intensive than the conventional one. The team hopes their new protocol, designed for use out in the field, will make it easier to categorize plants and ultimately help protect biodiversity.

Agronomy / Food Science - Environment - 14.05.2024
Mosaic grassland landscapes are the most beneficial
Mosaic grassland landscapes are the most beneficial
Like forests, grassland provides numerous ecological, economic and social benefits. Researchers in the Swiss canton of Solothurn have investigated ways to maintain and improve these benefits. Grass, clover and herbs are the foundation of Swiss agriculture: two-thirds of Switzerland's agricultural land is grassland, much of which is barely suitable for arable farming.

Environment - Chemistry - 13.05.2024
Reaction of trees to heat unravelled
Reaction of trees to heat unravelled
At temperatures above 30°C, water loss through transpiration increases in trees, while CO2 uptake decreases - even when there is enough CO2 in the atmosphere. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL were able to show this in a study conducted using a new high-tech facility.

Life Sciences - Environment - 08.05.2024
Limited Adaptability Makes Freshwater Bacteria Vulnerable to Climate Change
Limited Adaptability Makes Freshwater Bacteria Vulnerable to Climate Change
Freshwater bacteria with small genomes frequently undergo prolonged periods of adaptive stagnation. Based on genomic analyses of samples from Lake Zurich and other European lakes, researchers at the University of Zurich uncovered specific evolutionary strategies that shape these bacteria's lifestyles.

Environment - Chemistry - 08.05.2024
How rising treelines can affect Alpine lakes
How rising treelines can affect Alpine lakes
An EPFL scientist along with colleagues from universities across Europe have completed the first-ever quantitative study of the changes that soil organic matter from forests can cause in high-altitude and high-latitude lakes once it's dissolved in the water Treelines are rising around the world as a result of global warming.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 30.04.2024
How the plant world shapes the climate cycle
How the plant world shapes the climate cycle
In order to understand the Earth's resilience, researchers at ETH Zurich are modelling climate changes from times long past. And they show: Plants are not simply victims of circumstances, but have helped to shape climate conditions on Earth. Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, Earth has lived through a series of climatic shifts, shaping the planet as we know it today.

Life Sciences - Environment - 26.04.2024
Curiosity promotes biodiversity
Curiosity promotes biodiversity
Cichlid fishes exhibit differing degrees of curiosity. The cause for this lies in their genes, as reported by researchers from the Universities of Bern and Basel in the journal Science. This trait influences the cichlids' ability to adapt to new habitats. Exploratory behavior is one of the fundamental personality traits of animals - and these traits influence their probability of survival, among other things.

Environment - History / Archeology - 24.04.2024
On the trail of pollution in Lausanne
On the trail of pollution in Lausanne
A team of researchers from EPFL, UNIL, and Unisanté have published a report that goes through about the legacy of pollution from a trash incinerator that burned in the Lausanne Vallon neighborhood from 1958 to 2005.

Environment - Chemistry - 23.04.2024
Bacteria for climate-neutral chemicals of the future
Bacteria for climate-neutral chemicals of the future
Researchers at ETH Zurich have engineered bacteria in the laboratory to efficiently use methanol. The metabolism of these bacteria can now be tapped into to produce valuable products currently made by the chemical industry from fossil fuels. To produce various chemicals such as plastics, dyes or artificial flavours, the chemical industry currently relies heavily on fossil resources such as crude oil.

Environment - 17.04.2024
Understanding carbon release from the tundra
Understanding carbon release from the tundra
The warming climate shifts the dynamics of tundra environments and makes them release trapped carbon, according to a new study published in Nature. These changes could transform tundras from carbon sinks into a carbon source, exacerbating the effects of climate change. Open-top chambers (OTCs) in Latnjajaure, Sweden provide a controlled environment to study simulated warming of the tundra ecosystem.

Environment - 15.04.2024
Tropical forests can't recover naturally without fruit eating birds
Tropical forests can’t recover naturally without fruit eating birds
Natural forest regeneration is hailed as a cost-effective way to restore biodiversity and sequester carbon. However, the fragmentation of tropical forests has restricted the movement of large birds limiting their capacity to disperse seeds and restore healthy forests. New research from the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich illustrates a critical barrier to natural regeneration of tropical forests.

Chemistry - Environment - 12.04.2024
Will plastics soon be easier to degrade?
Will plastics soon be easier to degrade?
A research team has developed a new type of polymer, the main component of plastics, which is more easily degradable than conventional materials. Mechanical treatment such as grinding, combined with the use of an alkaline solution, is all that's needed to facilitate chemical recycling and reduce environmental impact .

Environment - Architecture - 10.04.2024
What can cities do to promote acceptance of densification?
What can cities do to promote acceptance of densification?
Swiss cities are more likely to accept densification when densification projects provide affordable housing and green spaces compared to densification that is implemented through reduced regulations for housing construction. By prioritizing a socio-ecological densification, extensive planning procedures and delays might be minimized.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 09.04.2024
Tiny plastic particles are found everywhere
Tiny plastic particles are found everywhere
Microplastic particles can be found in the most remote ocean regions on earth. In Antarctica, pollution levels are even higher than previously assumed. This is one finding of a recent study involving researchers from the University of Basel. It's not the first study on microplastics in Antarctica that researchers from the University of Basel and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI) have conducted.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 08.04.2024
Global warming is sinking meteorites
Global warming is sinking meteorites
More than 300,000 meteorites lie on the Antarctic ice. They contain an unprecedented wealth of information about our solar system. With every tenth of a degree of global warming, thousands of meteorites sink. Researchers from WSL and ETH recommend that their collection be promoted. The Antarctic holds a valuable treasure of around 300,000 meteorites lying on the surface of the ice.

Environment - 05.04.2024
Transformative potential of decentralization
Transformative potential of decentralization
Researchers from EPFL and HES-SO Valais Wallis have published a study outlining a path to a more sustainable energy future for Switzerland. The study emphasizes the importance of local energy solutions, and the role of decentralized systems for community empowerment. A pivotal finding of the study, published in Energies , is the integration of decentralized photovoltaic (PV) systems into the Swiss energy grid; this could reduce annual system costs by 10% and elevate self-consumption rates to 68%.

Environment - 04.04.2024
Impacts of invasive species transcend ecosystem boundaries
Impacts of invasive species transcend ecosystem boundaries
Invasive species influence biodiversity across larger spatial extents than previously thought. In a recently published study, researchers from Eawag and the University of Zurich show that the impacts of invasive species extend far beyond the ecosystems they invade and that three mechanisms are primarily responsible for this.

Physics - Environment - 04.04.2024
Nanodevices can produce energy from evaporating tap or seawater
Nanodevices can produce energy from evaporating tap or seawater
Researchers have discovered that nanoscale devices harnessing the hydroelectric effect can harvest electricity from the evaporation of fluids with higher ion concentrations than purified water, revealing a vast untapped energy potential. Evaporation is a natural process so ubiquitous that most of us take it for granted.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 02.04.2024
Strengthening Swiss hydropower with science
Strengthening Swiss hydropower with science
Researchers at ETH Zurich led by Robert Boes are developing specific solutions to optimise electricity production from Swiss hydropower plants. This will ensure that hydropower remains the backbone of Switzerland's electricity supply in the future. "Although Swiss hydropower is a proven technology, we must constantly work on optimising it.
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