Alpine and Polar Environmental Research Centre (ALPOLE)

ALPOLE is a new research center at EPFL’s Valais Wallis campus in Sion. It opened in December 2022 and is part of ENAC School.
Its researchers aim to better understand and predict environmental changes in high-altitude and high-latitude regions, in Switzerland and other locations around the world that are experiencing a rapid, unprecedented transformation. This transformation is of global, regional and local relevance for natural ecosystems, the built environment and human well-being.

ALPOLE is currently home to eight research units that are conducting process-based studies, developing forecasts of climate-induced change to the environment, investigating environmental adaptation to global warming and exploring mitigation and adaptation strategies. ALPOLE will set new standards of excellence through its multidisciplinary approach that combines physics, chemistry, biology and computer science to address a broad range of major research topics. Those include:

  • catchment hydrology and land use,
  • the biophysics and chemistry of Alpine rivers,
  • biogeochemical cycling in Alpine soils and how it affects agriculture,
  • microbial adaptation in cryospheric ecosystems,
  • aerosol processes and the detection of greenhouse gases in polar environments,
  • fundamental snow and atmosphere processes and how they can be applied to adapt renewable energy,
  • machine learning for mapping and monitoring specific environments,
  • detection of greenhouse gases in polar environments.

Field work in high-altitude, high-latitude regions is an important part of ALPOLE’s research. Its scientists and engineers work closely with the Swiss Polar Institute – located in the same building – to provide support and services to Switzerland’s polar research community.

Owing to ALPOLE’s location at EPFL Valais Wallis and position within ENAC’s Environmental Engineering Institute, the center acts as an ambassador to strengthen EPFL’s ties with local stakeholders and policymakers. ALPOLE will help these individuals and organizations address issues related to the transformation of Alpine and polar environments and the consequences on natural ecosystems.