A group of EPFL and ETH Zurich scientists have mapped the biodiversity in forests worldwide.© 2024 EPFL

Scientists map biodiversity changes in the world's forests

— A group of EPFL and ETH Zurich scientists have mapped the biodiversity in forests worldwide. Their data, when combined with climate projections, reveal trends that could support ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts.

Treelines are rising as a result of global warming.© Istock/semak

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.

The cameras are placed on a structure that allows data to be taken from a wide range of corals. © LWimages

AI-powered system maps corals in 3D in record time

— An artificial intelligence system developed at EPFL can produce 3D maps of coral reefs from camera footage in just a few minutes. It marks a major leap forward in deep-sea exploration and conservation capabilities for organizations like the Transnational Red Sea Center (TRSC).

A glacier in Ecuador studied by the "Vanishing Glaciers" project. © EPFL/Vincent de Stark

Glacier shrinkage is causing a “green transition”

— Glacier-fed streams are undergoing a process of profound change, according to EPFL scientists in a paper appearing in Nature Geoscience. This conclusion is based on the expeditions to the world’s major mountain ranges by members of the Vanishing Glaciers project.

Fieldwork mission to Union Glacier, Antarctica 2022, in collaboration with (Universidad de Santiago Chile, USACH). © José Jorquera

Mapping the blue ice in Antarctica from the sky

— Antarctica’s blue ice is a gold mine of information for scientists. Yet it’s scattered across areas making up just 1% of the continent’s surface – so it’s not easy to find. But now, researchers have generated a map of blue ice areas by combining artificial intelligence with satellite data.

Kyrgizstan, Arabel Plateau © Vincent de Staercke - EPFL

Vanishing worlds: Exploring our planet's icy ecosystems

— Long considered devoid of life, glaciers – and the microorganisms they harbor – are receiving the recognition they deserve.

Au mois de septembre, où la banquise arctique atteint son minimum, elle était à son cinquième niveau le plus bas jamais enregistré, décrit Julia Schmale © iStock

Polar ice holds the key to our future on Earth

— The world’s ice shelves, glaciers and ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. The extent of polar sea ice in both the Arctic and the Antarctic is unusually low this year. Protecting the cryosphere is essential to life on Earth – which is why scientists are pulling out all the stops to understand the complex dynamics

© Laurence Piaget-Dubuis

“Valais is an ideal laboratory to study climate change impacts”

— Exploring the climate crisis with Jérôme Chappellaz, environmental scientist and academic director of ALPOLE at EPFL.

Permafrost covers 22% of the Earth’s land surface. © iStock

Permafrost: a ticking time bomb beneath our feet

— Nearly a quarter of the Earth’s land surface is permanently frozen. These areas, known as permafrost, are found in northern polar regions and at high altitudes. But the permafrost is now starting to thaw – with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate. Here, we look at what scientists currently know about this potential threat.

Durban's beach after a flood on 13 April 2022, two years after the one of 2019. © iStock/Antonio BlancoDR

AI helps detecting plastic in oceans

— A research team from EPFL and Wageningen University has developed a new artificial intelligence model that recognises floating plastics much more accurately in satellite images than before. This could help to systematically remove plastic litter from the oceans with ships.

© Lionel Favre / 2023 EPFL

A summer of intense field-work for the GreenFjord project

— GreenFjord is a four-year research program intended to investigate how climate change is affecting ecosystems in southern Greenland. The scientists just completed a first intensive field season where they won over the local residents. The next step will be to analyze the millions of datapoints they collected.

The gut commensals Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron and B. fragilis form biofilms in crypt-like features. Credit: Jeremy Wong (EPFL)

Flowing fluids shape the social life of gut microbes

— A groundbreaking study reveals that the flow of fluids influences the spatial organization of bacterial communities that inhabit our intestines, revealing an overlooked factor potentially mediating our microbiome and gut health.

© 2023 EPFL

Belgica 2023 medal for Jérôme Chappellaz

— Professor Jérôme Chappellaz has been awarded the Belgica 2023 Medal for polar exploration by the Royal Academy of Belgium.

Jérôme Chappellaz © Jean-Yves Vitoux, Institut polaire français IPEV

“The polar regions are an utterly fascinating scientific playground”

— Joining EPFL to head the Ferring Pharmaceuticals Margaretha Kamprad Chair in Environmental Sciences, Jérôme Chappellaz brings decades of experience studying the evolution of the earth’s climate and sharing his findings with the public.

Prof. Battin heads EPFL’s River Ecosystems Laboratory (RIVER) at Alpole in Sion. ©Alain Herzog, EPFL

Prof. Tom Battin receives European Geosciences Union award

— EPFL Prof. Tom Battin has been awarded the 2023 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal for his pioneering research on biofilms in streams. The awards ceremony was held in Vienna on Wednesday, 26 April 2023.

Several EPFL laboratories are working to pinpoint what makes Red Sea corals so resilient to global warming and pollution. ©Guilhem Banc-Prandi

Scientists monitor wildlife to boost preservation efforts

— To mark the tenth annual UN World Wildlife Day, we compiled a sample of EPFL research projects that are using technology to protect and preserve wildlife.

A satellite image of Siberia Lena delta that flows in the Arctic Ocean. © NASA

Why rivers matter for the global carbon cycle

— In a new journal article, EPFL professor Tom Battin reviews our current understanding of carbon fluxes in the world’s river networks. He demonstrates their central role in the global carbon cycle and argues for the creation of a global River Observation System.

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.

Comparaison visuelle de Zanzibar City, en Tanzanie. carte de la densité de population en haute résolution (à gauche)  et avec POMELO (à droite)

AI enables more effective humanitarian action

— Researchers from ENAC and ETH Zurich, working together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Bin Khalifa Unversity (Qatar), have developed a program that can generate population density estimates with unparalleled precision, and only needs a rough estimate at the regional level to learn.

Drone surveillance could be useful for national park rangers. © Friedrich Reinhard

ALPOLE researchers win two EU research grants

— Devis Tuia and Tom Ian Battin, two laboratory heads at EPFL’s Alpine and Polar Research Center (ALPOLE), in Sion, have obtained funding under the EU’s Horizon program. This funding is intended to sponsor PhD students within a network of doctoral students in Europe, thus enabling professors to embark on high-stakes projects with confidence.

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