Department Surface Waters - Research and Management

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A new Rolling Stones album?

River “Sense” close to Zumholz, FR (Photo: Markus Zeh)

March 19, 2018
“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” This is the saying credited with giving the famous British rock band its name…but does it hold true from an ecological or hydraulic engineering perspective? What flora and fauna live in and around streams with pronounced bed-load dynamics? And how do rivers function that have too little gravel movement? Read more

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Dr. Christine WeberTel. +41 58 765 2214Send Mail

Tributaries influence the reaction of lakes to the climate

Outlet of the Rhone into Lake Geneva near le Bouveret: tributaries have a cooling effect on the predicted temperature increase of lakes due to climate change. Photo: Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr

February 19, 2018
If the climate heats up, the temperature in the uppermost layer of lakes will increase, the thermic layering will become more stable and last longer, and less oxygen will reach the depths – this is the present theory on the effect of climate change on lakes. Read more

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Exploring lakes in Vanuatu

A lake overgrown with aquatic plants in Vanuatu, July 2017

January 24, 2018
A research team from the Surface Waters Research and Management Department is investigating the earliest traces of human life in the tropical Pacific. In July 2017, the team undertook an expedition to Vanuatu in Melanesia. The researchers took sediment cores from the lakes and marshes on seven islands in order to test these for indications of the earliest human activities. Read more

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Dr. Nathalie DuboisTel. +41 58 765 5243Send Mail

Thermal energy from Swiss lakes: new website launched

Evaporation on the lake surface shows: Lake Lucerne is much warmer than the air (Photo: Adrien Gaudard, Eawag)

January 17, 2018
How much thermal energy from Swiss lakes can be exploited without having an impact on their ecosystems? Eawag was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) to estimate the potentials with the larger lakes and rivers. Read more

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Dr. Martin SchmidTel. +41 58 765 2193Send Mail

Many Swiss lakes still affected by oxygen depletion

All the way down: researchers used a submersible robot to measure oxygen concentrations throughout the water column in Lake Geneva. Photo: EPFL

November 27, 2017
Although nutrient inputs to Swiss lakes are today much lower than they were before the introduction of phosphate precipitation at wastewater treatment plants and the ban on phosphates in detergents, many lakes are still affected by oxygen depletion – especially in the deeper waters. Read more

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Dr. Damien BouffardTel. +41 58 765 2273Send Mail

Eawag water experts contributing to a new online course

Eawag water experts contributing to a new online course (Photo: University of Zurich)

November 2, 2017
Christian Stamm and Alfred Johny Wüest are lecturing along with other academics and practitioners in a new online course on “Water in Switzerland”, run by the University of Zurich. The course, addressed to the public, examines how this element affects various aspects of life in Switzerland. Read more

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Low levels of antibiotic resistance in drinking water

Resistant bacteria can grow in an antibiotic-treated culture medium. (Photo: Helmut Bürgmann, Eawag)

October 18, 2017
Compared to other foodstuffs, Switzerland’s drinking water shows low levels of contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria or resistance genes. This was demonstrated in a study of eight drinking water systems carried out by Eawag researchers on behalf of the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association (SVGW) and water suppliers. Read more

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Dr. Helmut BürgmannMicrobial EcologyTel. +41 58 765 2165Send Mail

Lake mixing – the might of the microorganism

Collection of water samples from Lake Cadagno (canton of Ticino, 1920 m asl). (Photo: Eawag, Helmut Bürgmann)

October 5, 2017
Single-celled bacteria are capable of mixing water layers in lakes – not directly, by movement of their flagella, but by accumulating locally and thus increasing water density. The heavier water then sinks, creating circular currents. Researchers have now observed this process for the first time not just in the laboratory, but in a natural water body – Lake Cadagno (canton of Ticino). Read more

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Lake Geneva plummets to 8 degrees from 23

Surface temperatures in Lake Geneva on 1.7.2017: while in Geneva and on the southwest shore near Nyon, temperatures below 10 degrees were recorded, in Évian swimmers were enjoying 22 to 23-degree waters. (Source: meteolakes.epfl.ch)

July 13, 2017
If the wind blows away the warm surface waters of a lake, cold water flows in from the depths. As a result of this effect the temperature in Lake Geneva recently sank to 8 degrees. A project led by Eawag and EPFL had predicted this cooling event. Read more

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Dr. Damien BouffardTel. +41 58 765 2273Send Mail

Newly discovered methane consumers in lakes

June 7, 2017
In freshwater lakes, large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane are oxidized by bacteria before it can be emitted into the atmosphere. A study in Lakes Rotsee and Zug has now shown that the bulk of this work is done, not by “classical” methane consumers, but by filamentous bacteria previously known only as contaminants of water supplies. Read more

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Dr. Carsten SchubertTel. +41 58 765 2195Send Mail

Ecosystem stress caused by micropollutants

June 1, 2017
Micropollutants enter rivers and streams in effluents discharged from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). As well as having adverse impacts on individual species, these substances appear to alter aquatic ecosystem functions, such as litter decomposition. This was shown by a research project launched by Eawag in view of the planned upgrade of selected Swiss WWTPs to reduce micropollutant loads. The effects of the first upgrades are already evident. The Microbial Ecology group of SURF participated in the study with the question of whether the frequency of antibiotic resistance is influenced by the treated wastewater. Read more

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Dr. Helmut BürgmannMicrobial EcologyTel. +41 58 765 2165Send Mail

Porewater salinity reveals past lake-level changes in Lake Van, the Earth’s largest soda lake

March 24, 2017
This publication in Scientific Reports shows a new way to reconstruct ancient climate events from lake sediment cores. The variability of lake-levels over past millennia is an important source of climate information because it informs us about the ratio between precipitation and evaporation and hence temperature and humidity. The authors show that a very simple method can accurately determine ancient lake level changes: measuring the salinity in the pore water of sediment cores, i.e., the salt content in water that has accumulated in the pore space during sedimentation. Using this tool they reconstructed the considerable changes of the water level of Lake Van over the last 600.000 years. Read more

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Dr. Yama TomonagaTel. +41 58 765 5365Send Mail
Dr. Carsten SchubertTel. +41 58 765 2195Send Mail

Fostering knowledge exchange around sensors

March 17, 2017
The "sensors@eawag" working group organized the second workshop to foster knowledge exchange around sensors, loggers, wireless communication technologies and  electronics. The goal was to exchange information between the departments and open discussion about current, new or future applications.  20 interested scientists and technicians attended the meeting initiated by Bernhard Wehrli, which was held in Kastanienbaum for the first time. Read more

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Christian DinkelTel. +41 58 765 2151Send Mail

Good arguments for thermal use of surface waters in Switzerland

March 16, 2017
Switzerland’s surface waters contain vast amounts of thermal energy which could be used for heating or cooling. Based on numerous studies, Eawag scientists have now estimated the ecological impacts of thermal use.  Read more

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Adrien GaudardScientific collaboratorTel. +41 58 765 5049Send Mail

Breath-taking moments in the Black Sea

February 10, 2017
Periodic oscillations of bottom-water oxygen concentrations can alter benthic communities and carbon storage for decades, reveals a new study published in Science Advances. This is particularly relevant as low oxygen conditions are on the rise in the world’s oceans. Read more

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Dr. Carsten SchubertTel. +41 58 765 2195Send Mail

ETH Medal awarded to Kirsten Oswald

January 21, 2017
Kirsten Oswald received an ETH medal for her excellent doctoral dissertation. The medal has been presented at the graduation ceremony on January 20, 2017. Read more

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Dr. Kirsten Oswald
Tel.  +41 44 633 8575
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