Extreme Environments Research Laboratory EERL – Ingvar Kamprad Chair

Understanding polar and alpine environments


Extreme environments are very sensitive to climate change and are transforming at accelerated rates. This can have important repercussions for society such as changed weather patterns or sea level rise. Hence understanding processes of change is essential for future predictions.

The EERL aims to create integrated process understanding by conducting field studies looking at interactions between the atmosphere, cryosphere, ocean, land and human activities. Assuming a perspective of atmospheric science, the goal is to characterize processes that are directly influenced by humans versus natural processes that are undergoing change due to climate forcing. 

EPFL News Channel

Donato Kofel has completed his Master’s project in environmental sciences and engineering. © aAlain Herzog / 2023 EPFL

Trees are not always a miracle cure for improving air quality

— MASTER'S PROJECT – Donato Kofel has quantified the positive and negative effects of trees on outdoor air quality in Geneva Canton. His method can be used by city planners to design their large-scale planting programs more effectively.

© 2023 EPFL

Six SNSF Consolidator Grans awarded to EPFL researchers

— The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) awarded six "SNSF Consolidator Grants" to EPFL researchers. This transitional measure replaces the ERC Consolidator Grants.

© 2023 EPFL

Three "ENAC Flagship projects" granted

— We're happy to announce the 3 successful ENAC Flagship projects, involving 7 ENAC Professors coming from different research disciplines. The Flagships will receive between 400 and 500 kCHF each and will be running until spring 2026!

The new building houses the Alpine and Polar Environmental Research Centre. © Olivier Maire

EPFL plans new research center in Valais on the energy transition

— Ten years after signing the agreement to open its Valais Wallis campus in Sion, today EPFL opened a new building on the campus: Alpole, which will serve as a research center on alpine and polar environments. EPFL also took the opportunity to unveil plans to create another research center in Sion – one focused on the energy transition – and has obtained preliminary approval from the Valais cantonal government.

The polluted warm air-mass photographed on April 15, 2020 by the EPFL researcher. © J. Schmale

A warm intrusion in the Arctic causes extreme pollution levels

— During the MOSAiC research expedition, conducted in the Arctic pack ice between 2019 and 2020, EPFL scientists observed an atmospheric perturbation triggered by the intrusion of a highly polluted warm air-mass. A first study providing further insight into the phenomenon and its potential implications has just been published.

Better knowledge of ecosystems should benefit local people. © iStock

New research program will study fjord ecosystems in Greenland

— In a four-year field research program led by EPFL, in association with several other Swiss institutions, scientists will aim to understand the ecosystem of Greenlandic fjords in the context of a changing climate. They plan to investigate how accelerated glacier discharge and soil erosion impact the fjords nutrient cycle, marine resources and cloud formation, and how local livelihoods are affected.

Alert Research Station, Canada ,1 June 2016. © Kevin Rawlings

Scientists map Arctic aerosols to better understand regional warming

— Scientists at EPFL and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have studied the chemical composition and origin – whether natural or anthropogenic – of aerosols in a region spanning from Russia to Canada. Their findings provide unique insights for helping researchers better understand climate change in the Arctic and design effective pollution-mitigation measures. The work was made possible thanks to the joint effort of scientists from three continents.