Extreme Environments Research Laboratory EERL

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. 

New Master and Semester projects for the Fall semester 2021!

Check the latest available projects. A chance to apply and acquire knoweldge through practical and field work

EPFL News Channel

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.

Andrea Baccarini investigated aerosol formation in the Arctic and Antarctic and their role in climate change. © Sharif Mirshak Parafilms / EPFL

“Taking part in expeditions was an unbelievable experience”

— Andrea Baccarini, now a scientist at ENAC’s Extreme Environments Research Laboratory, has been awarded the ETH Medal for his thesis investigating aerosol formation in the Arctic and Antarctic and the role aerosols play in climate change.

© 2021 EPFL

ENAC Sustainability Grants 2021: 17 projects funded !

— Several calls for proposals, grouped under "ENAC Sustainability Grants", were launched in 2021 to address the ENAC challenges linked to Climate change, Digitalization and Urbanization. Discover here the granted projects!

© 2021 istock

Six Ambitious Interdisciplinary Projects in Imaging to Start in 2022

— Six projects were selected among very strong submissions to the “Call for Interdisciplinary Projects in Imaging” recently launched by the EPFL Center for Imaging. These grants are intended to encourage cross-fertilization and foster new developments in the vast field of scientific imaging.

Picture of the Arctic taken from the sky. © Paul Zieger,

Modeling polar processes in the global climate system

— A new project maps the role of polar sea ice and snow in the global climate system. Julia Schmale, a tenure-track assistant professor at EPFL, is part of the research team.