Department Surface Waters - Research and Management

News Portal

Barbara F. Günthardt, Matthew Moy de Vitry and Marius Neamtu (from left)
October 18, 2021 –

The environmental chemist Barbara F. Günthardt and the two environmental engineers Matthew Moy de Vitry and Marius Neamtu are awarded the ETH Medal for their doctoral theses. Plant toxins, urban flooding and complicated flows were...

The environmental chemist Barbara F. Günthardt and the two environmental engineers Matthew Moy de Vitry and Marius Neamtu are awarded the ETH Medal for their doctoral theses. Plant toxins, urban flooding and complicated flows were the topics. Congratulations!

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A new method makes it easier to predict and analyse eddies in the ocean. (Photo: iStock)
September 17, 2021 –

The chaotic behaviour of vortices is one of the things that makes weather forecasting so difficult. Researchers at ETH Zurich, Eawag and WSL, together with international partners, have now developed a novel experimental method...

The chaotic behaviour of vortices is one of the things that makes weather forecasting so difficult. Researchers at ETH Zurich, Eawag and WSL, together with international partners, have now developed a novel experimental method that enables more accurate analyses of the movement and energy of turbulence in fluids with much less effort.

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Alfred Wüest on the shore on Lake Lucerne at the Eawag site of Kastanienbaum, and very close to “his element”. Photo: Christian Dinkel, Eawag
August 31, 2021 –

In official circles, he is known as Prof. Dr. Alfred Wüest. But his fellow researchers and colleagues, simply call him Johny. When he came to Eawag in 1983, no one imagined the formative influence Johny Wüest would have on the...

In official circles, he is known as Prof. Dr. Alfred Wüest. But his fellow researchers and colleagues, simply call him Johny. When he came to Eawag in 1983, no one imagined the formative influence Johny Wüest would have on the research institute, but above all on the many people who have worked with him over the years.

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The floating laboratory LéXPLORE on Lake Geneva. (Photo: Natacha Tofield-Pasche, EPFL)
August 26, 2021 –

There has been a floating laboratory on Lake Geneva called LéXPLORE since 2019. Natacha Tofield-Pasche, limnologist at EPFL and project leader of LéXPLORE, and Damien Bouffard, researcher at Eawag and member of the LéXPLORE...

There has been a floating laboratory on Lake Geneva called LéXPLORE since 2019. Natacha Tofield-Pasche, limnologist at EPFL and project leader of LéXPLORE, and Damien Bouffard, researcher at Eawag and member of the LéXPLORE steering committee, tell us what is being studied there and why this research platform is unique.

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Eschelisbach Thurgau (Photo: Esther Michel, Eawag)
August 12, 2021 –

Decisions in water management are often associated with large uncertainties. Quantifying and communicating these uncertainties is crucial for science to support transparent decision-making in society.

Decisions in water management are often associated with large uncertainties. Quantifying and communicating these uncertainties is crucial for science to support transparent decision-making in society.

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Lake Cadagno in Ticino is special: Salty springs at the lake bottom prevent mixing, resulting in a stable stratification. (Photo: M. Philippi)
August 6, 2021 –

It was long assumed that cyanobacteria were mainly responsible for fixing nitrogen on early Earth, thus making nitrogen available to the biosphere. In a paper published today in “Nature Communications”, a team of researchers from...

It was long assumed that cyanobacteria were mainly responsible for fixing nitrogen on early Earth, thus making nitrogen available to the biosphere. In a paper published today in “Nature Communications”, a team of researchers from Germany and Switzerland now shows that purple sulfur bacteria could have contributed substantially to nitrogen fixation.

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Michael Plüss, technician at Eawag's department Surface Waters, installs a thermistor chain on Lake Stei (Canton Bern, at the Susten Pass). Through automatic series of measurements of water temperature at various depths over several years, the researchers are gaining a better understanding of the general development of high-alpine lakes and their seasonal fluctuations. (Photo: Nico Mölg, Eawag)
July 19, 2021 –

A comprehensive inventory of Swiss glacial lakes shows how the lake landscape in the high mountains has changed since the end of the Little Ice Age.

A comprehensive inventory of Swiss glacial lakes shows how the lake landscape in the high mountains has changed since the end of the Little Ice Age.

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Graphic: Shutterstock
July 15, 2021 –

Open Science is an important development in science - open access to the results of research. Eawag supports these and makes a growing part of its research data, including descriptions, images and even software, available publicly...

Open Science is an important development in science - open access to the results of research. Eawag supports these and makes a growing part of its research data, including descriptions, images and even software, available publicly and free of charge on the Eawag platform ERIC or, in special cases, on discipline-specific, international databases. ERIC complements the long-standing platform DORA for scientific publications.

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The water roars out of the turbines of the power plant at the Kariba Dam. It supplies electricit for the copper mines in the north of Zambia. (Photo: Manuel Kunz, Eawag)
June 14, 2021 –

Hydropower is considered to be CO2-neutral, but certain power plants in tropical regions produce large quantities of greenhouse gases. Researchers at Eawag have now studied how much carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere below...

Hydropower is considered to be CO2-neutral, but certain power plants in tropical regions produce large quantities of greenhouse gases. Researchers at Eawag have now studied how much carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere below the Kariba Dam in southern Africa. Such previously ignored emissions must be taken into account by future carbon budgets.

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Fisherman on the Barotse Floodplain, one of Africa's great wetlands on the Zambezi River (Photo: R. Scott Winton)
June 1, 2021 –

The Zambezi River Basin in southern Africa is a high-quality waterscape. But current rapid development threatens the waters of the Zambezi, particularly its tributaries. The challenge will be to ensure that mitigation measures...

The Zambezi River Basin in southern Africa is a high-quality waterscape. But current rapid development threatens the waters of the Zambezi, particularly its tributaries. The challenge will be to ensure that mitigation measures keep up with population and economic growth to avoid degradation of water quality degradation.

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May 12, 2021 –

The last ice age, about 20,000 years ago, was significantly colder than previously thought. This is shown for the first time by systematically analysed samples of groundwater collected around the globe and the inert gases...

The last ice age, about 20,000 years ago, was significantly colder than previously thought. This is shown for the first time by systematically analysed samples of groundwater collected around the globe and the inert gases dissolved in it. Swiss groundwater from Uster (ZH) also contributed to the results.

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Measurements on Lake Geneva in July 2014. A CTD probe is used to measure conductivity, temperature, depth, oxygen content, pH value and turbidity of the water in a depth profile with high spatial resolution. (Photo: Beat Müller)
April 19, 2021 –

The condition of Swiss lakes has improved thanks to stricter protection measures, but less than expected. A new method developed by Eawag for calculating biomass production in lakes provides explanations and a basis for further...

The condition of Swiss lakes has improved thanks to stricter protection measures, but less than expected. A new method developed by Eawag for calculating biomass production in lakes provides explanations and a basis for further water protection measures.

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Janet Hering, Director of Eawag (Photo: Eawag)
March 22, 2021 –

The motto of today’s World Water Day is “Valuing water – What means water to you?”. With this motto, the United Nations wants to raise awareness of the vital importance of water and call on people to think about the value of...

The motto of today’s World Water Day is “Valuing water – What means water to you?”. With this motto, the United Nations wants to raise awareness of the vital importance of water and call on people to think about the value of water. In an interview, Eawag Director Janet Hering explains the importance of water for the aquatic research institute Eawag and also her personally.

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Areas in which periods with water deficits increase in summer will become larger with climate change by the end of the century. (Impacts of Climate Change on Swiss Waters; nccs 2021)
March 16, 2021 –

There will be no general shortage, but water may be scarce depending on the region and time of year – conversely, heavier rainfall will lead to more local flooding. These are the findings of the Hydro-CH2018 project published...

There will be no general shortage, but water may be scarce depending on the region and time of year – conversely, heavier rainfall will lead to more local flooding. These are the findings of the Hydro-CH2018 project published today, Hydrological Principles of Climate Change. The extensive study with collaboration of the Eawag Water Research Institute was carried out under the lead of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) in conjunction with the National Centre for Climate Services (NCCS). Climate change means that our use of water will have to change in future.

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Artistic representation of the endosymbiont ‘Candidatus Azoamicus ciliaticola’ and its ciliate host from Lake Zug. (© Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology/S. Ahmerkamp)
March 3, 2021 –

Researchers have discovered a unique bacterium that lives inside a unicellular eukaryote and provides it with energy. Unlike mitochondria, this so-called endosymbiont derives energy from the respiration of nitrate, not oxygen.

Researchers have discovered a unique bacterium that lives inside a unicellular eukaryote and provides it with energy. Unlike mitochondria, this so-called endosymbiont derives energy from the respiration of nitrate, not oxygen.

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Via the hairs on their antennae, copepods can sense tiny disturbances in the water and thus detect conspecifics or predators. (Photo: Markus Holzner)
February 25, 2021 –

Copepods (minute crustaceans with paddle-like feet) can differentiate between disturbances in water generated by nearby organisms and turbulence caused by wind or waves – an ability which helps them to find mates. It had...

Copepods (minute crustaceans with paddle-like feet) can differentiate between disturbances in water generated by nearby organisms and turbulence caused by wind or waves – an ability which helps them to find mates. It had previously been assumed that turbulent conditions would impede the quest for mates.

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Klöntalersee. Photo: Martin Koebke, iStock
February 18, 2021 –

A new simulation study shows that climate change risks significantly altering water temperature, ice cover and mixing of many Swiss lakes. Mid altitude lakes are especially under pressure, running the risk of completely losing ice...

A new simulation study shows that climate change risks significantly altering water temperature, ice cover and mixing of many Swiss lakes. Mid altitude lakes are especially under pressure, running the risk of completely losing ice cover and no longer fully mixing twice per year. Such a change would have fundamental consequences for the functioning of lake ecosystems.

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Lake Tanganyika research expedition onboard the RV Mama Benita. (Photo: Cameron Callbeck)
February 12, 2021 –

A community of sulfur bacteria grows in the northern basin of Lake Tanganyika and plays a key role in the lake's nitrogen cycle. With climate change, the deep blooms could expand southward, a new study shows. This could have...

A community of sulfur bacteria grows in the northern basin of Lake Tanganyika and plays a key role in the lake's nitrogen cycle. With climate change, the deep blooms could expand southward, a new study shows. This could have drastic consequences for regional fisheries. 

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2020

Carsten Schubert (Photo: Peter Penicka)
December 11, 2020 –

The ETH-Board appoints Carsten Schubert as a new member of the Directorate of Eawag, the aquatic research institute.

The ETH-Board appoints Carsten Schubert as a new member of the Directorate of Eawag, the aquatic research institute.

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Part of the “Kafue Flats” wetland in Zambia. The bright green fringe along the shore is composed of water hyacinth and Amazon frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum). Photo: ATEC-3D
November 26, 2020 –

Sprawling carpets of floating plants are the result of too many nutrients. However, they could become part of solution strategies, Eawag researchers show.

Sprawling carpets of floating plants are the result of too many nutrients. However, they could become part of solution strategies, Eawag researchers show.

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View of Lake Biel (photo: istock)
October 29, 2020 –

When the wind on Lake Biel blows from the south-west and it rains heavily, large quantities of sediment are washed out of the River Aare into the lake. Since the south-west wind also influences the circulation in the lake, the...

When the wind on Lake Biel blows from the south-west and it rains heavily, large quantities of sediment are washed out of the River Aare into the lake. Since the south-west wind also influences the circulation in the lake, the wind direction determines to a large extent where the sediment is deposited in the lake, namely along the eastern shore towards Biel – an important finding for identifying areas at risk of landslides.

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[Translate to English:] Messkampagne im März 2018 auf dem Kivu-See, Ostafrika. (Foto: Eawag)
October 22, 2020 –

The findings of a new measurement campaign on Lake Kivu in Africa show that, contrary to previous assumptions, the methane concentration in the water is relatively stable or increasing only very slowly. Therefore, the risk of a...

The findings of a new measurement campaign on Lake Kivu in Africa show that, contrary to previous assumptions, the methane concentration in the water is relatively stable or increasing only very slowly. Therefore, the risk of a sudden gas eruption from the lake is currently not increasing.

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Sediment samples recently collected from the bottom of Lake Baldegg (Photo: ETH, Annika Fiskal)
October 9, 2020 –

Whether a lake was once polluted with excess nutrients is reflected even decades later in the community of bacteria living on these nutrients in the sediment. However, there is still surprisingly little research into how microbes...

Whether a lake was once polluted with excess nutrients is reflected even decades later in the community of bacteria living on these nutrients in the sediment. However, there is still surprisingly little research into how microbes in the sediment cooperate.

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September 18, 2020 –

Adaptation to warmer environmental conditions may increase the resistance of viruses, making them harder to be inactivated. This is the finding of a new study involving Eawag. Global warming could therefore make it more difficult...

Adaptation to warmer environmental conditions may increase the resistance of viruses, making them harder to be inactivated. This is the finding of a new study involving Eawag. Global warming could therefore make it more difficult to combat viruses.

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Interview with Adriano Joss (Photo: Raoul Schaffner)
September 8, 2020 –

Process Engineer Adriano Joss from Eawag water research institute has been working for many years on wastewater treatment plants and the removal of micropollutants from water. Together with Ralf Kägi, Head of the Eawag Particle...

Process Engineer Adriano Joss from Eawag water research institute has been working for many years on wastewater treatment plants and the removal of micropollutants from water. Together with Ralf Kägi, Head of the Eawag Particle Laboratory, he has compiled the current status of knowledge on microplastics. In an interview, he presents the most important findings. We have recently posted detailed information on the website “Microplastics in the environment”.

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Sediementcore from Greifensee (Photo: Eawag, Schmid)
September 2, 2020 –

Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag, University of Bern and ETH have developed a method for the comprehensive detection of organic pollutant residues in soils and sediments. Initial results show that, in addition to known...

Researchers from Agroscope, Eawag, University of Bern and ETH have developed a method for the comprehensive detection of organic pollutant residues in soils and sediments. Initial results show that, in addition to known substances, there are also a number of substances detected for the first time.

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Photo: Piotr Szpakowski, Shutterstock
May 25, 2020 –

126 Swiss researchers, including 6 from Eawag, want to draw the attention their Swiss compatriots to the scientific evidence showing the link between the emergence of pandemics and human disturbance of the natural environment.

126 Swiss researchers, including 6 from Eawag, want to draw the attention their Swiss compatriots to the scientific evidence showing the link between the emergence of pandemics and human disturbance of the natural environment.

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Widening Ile de Falcon on the Rhone near Sierre, Canton Valais (Photo: Christine Weber, Eawag)
May 8, 2020 –

In many places in Switzerland, rivers, streams and lakeshores are being restored. The new practice documentation “Evaluating the outcome of restoration projects” by Eawag and FOEN provides the basis for joint learning across...

In many places in Switzerland, rivers, streams and lakeshores are being restored. The new practice documentation “Evaluating the outcome of restoration projects” by Eawag and FOEN provides the basis for joint learning across project boundaries.

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Visible from an altitude of almost 800 km: pollen on Lake Geneva. (Photo: Sentinel-2; 10 m resolution)
May 7, 2020 –

There is a flip side to the annoying blankets of pollen found on cars, garden furniture and other surfaces: when it comes to satellite images, pollen on lakes reveals currents that are otherwise only visible in computer models....

There is a flip side to the annoying blankets of pollen found on cars, garden furniture and other surfaces: when it comes to satellite images, pollen on lakes reveals currents that are otherwise only visible in computer models. This makes the waterbody researchers and remote sensing experts very happy.

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Photo: pxhere
March 24, 2020 –

Contaminated waste water often flows into rivers and streams after heavy rains. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thus also enter the waters. Eawag is researching exactly which ones and in what amounts as part of a national research...

Contaminated waste water often flows into rivers and streams after heavy rains. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thus also enter the waters. Eawag is researching exactly which ones and in what amounts as part of a national research programme.

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Martin Schmid (Photo: Beat Kienholz)
March 19, 2020 –

The theme to this year’s UNESCO World Water Day is “Water and Climate Change”. Environmental scientist Martin Schmid, who is Head of the Eawag Group Applied System Analysis in the Surface Waters Department, talks about how climate...

The theme to this year’s UNESCO World Water Day is “Water and Climate Change”. Environmental scientist Martin Schmid, who is Head of the Eawag Group Applied System Analysis in the Surface Waters Department, talks about how climate change is impacting on waterbodies in Switzerland.

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2019

Collection of sediment samples on the Hoobach (Schaffhausen). (Photo: Andri Bryner, Eawag)
December 12, 2019 –

Pesticides in sediments cause adverse effects on benthic organisms. This was shown by a monitoring study conducted by the Ecotox Centre and Eawag on five streams in agricultural areas. Crustaceans were particularly affected....

Pesticides in sediments cause adverse effects on benthic organisms. This was shown by a monitoring study conducted by the Ecotox Centre and Eawag on five streams in agricultural areas. Crustaceans were particularly affected. Concentrations of several insecticides, including chlorpyrifos and the pyrethroid cypermethrin, exceeded effect thresholds, indicating impaired sediment quality.

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"The power of the small" premiered at the Global Science Film Festival. Photo: Flurin Sturzenegger
November 20, 2019 –

The Global Science Film Festival took place from the 15th to the 17th November in Zurich. In addition to films and short films, videos produced by scientists were shown – amongst those, a film by Helmut Bürgmann and Davide...

The Global Science Film Festival took place from the 15th to the 17th November in Zurich. In addition to films and short films, videos produced by scientists were shown – amongst those, a film by Helmut Bürgmann and Davide Ciccarese.

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The weir of the Wannebode small hydroelectric power station near Reckingen (VS) interrupts the continuum of the Blinnenbach. (Photo: Eawag)
September 3, 2019 –

The energy strategy calls for a further expansion of hydropower. This puts pressure on Swiss water bodies and water landscapes. At today's Eawag Info Day, some 200 experts from practice, research and administration will discuss...

The energy strategy calls for a further expansion of hydropower. This puts pressure on Swiss water bodies and water landscapes. At today's Eawag Info Day, some 200 experts from practice, research and administration will discuss how the various interests in water can be met in a sustainable manner and where the competition between these interests calls for priorities to be set. The Eawag researchers will demonstrate that it is not only a question of technical solutions, but also of social acceptance, for example when measures in favour of water ecology lead to an increase in the price of electricity.

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June 27, 2019 –

The summer heat has reached Switzerland and cooling down in the lake certainly does no harm. On the website "Meteolakes" you can find out how refreshing a dip in Lake Zurich will be at the moment, the next hours and days.

The summer heat has reached Switzerland and cooling down in the lake certainly does no harm. On the website "Meteolakes" you can find out how refreshing a dip in Lake Zurich will be at the moment, the next hours and days.

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Sea stickleback. (Photo: Ole Seehausen, Eawag)
June 3, 2019 –

Since the last ice age, stickleback have managed to emerge from the sea to colonise many freshwater waterbodies. Genetic analysis by Eawag researchers and colleagues from the University of Bern and the National Institute of...

Since the last ice age, stickleback have managed to emerge from the sea to colonise many freshwater waterbodies. Genetic analysis by Eawag researchers and colleagues from the University of Bern and the National Institute of Genetics in Shizuoka, Japan, now demonstrate that they achieved this thanks to additional copies of a metabolism gene.

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Carsten Schubert appointed adjunct professor at ETH Zurich (Photo: Eawag, Peter Penicka)
May 24, 2019 –

Geologist Carsten Schubert has been appointed adjungt professor by the ETH Board. He is thus honoured for his research on biogeochemical cycles and for his teaching activities and doctoral training.

Geologist Carsten Schubert has been appointed adjungt professor by the ETH Board. He is thus honoured for his research on biogeochemical cycles and for his teaching activities and doctoral training.

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The "LéXPLORE" platform on Lake Geneva (Photo: Natacha Pasche)
February 20, 2019 –

As of this week, “LéXPLORE”, a 100 metre research platform, is afloat on Lake Geneva. On board are countless radiosondes and sensors which should enable researchers at Eawag, EPFL and the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva to...

As of this week, “LéXPLORE”, a 100 metre research platform, is afloat on Lake Geneva. On board are countless radiosondes and sensors which should enable researchers at Eawag, EPFL and the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva to gain a better understanding of the ecological processes at work in Lake Geneva as well as the interactions between the water and the atmosphere.

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2018

While wastewater treatment essentially represents a barrier to the spread of antibiotic resistance genes, these genes are enriched in relative terms at WWTPs. (Photo: Werdhölzli WWTP)
December 12, 2018 –

Antibiotic resistance genes are not completely eliminated by wastewater treatment. While some resistance genes are present in the influent, many others are found in activated sludge bacteria. A recent Eawag study shows that,...

Antibiotic resistance genes are not completely eliminated by wastewater treatment. While some resistance genes are present in the influent, many others are found in activated sludge bacteria. A recent Eawag study shows that, rather than merely passing through, resistance genes are active and evolve within treatment plants.

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Reconstruction of the city of Aventicum on Lake Murten, former capital of Roman Switzerland. The picture is taken from the book “Aventicum — A Roman Capital City” by Daniel Castella et al (2015).
November 26, 2018 –

When a population grows quickly and farms intensively, the environment often suffers. This is not only true today, but was also the case as early as Roman times. Evidence of this has been found by Eawag researchers in sediments in...

When a population grows quickly and farms intensively, the environment often suffers. This is not only true today, but was also the case as early as Roman times. Evidence of this has been found by Eawag researchers in sediments in Lake Murten.

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Stonefly larva (Photo: Silvana Käser, Eawag)
October 11, 2018 –

Mountain rivers swollen by heavy rainfall deposit large amounts of sediment in reservoirs. To prevent the loss of storage capacity, some reservoirs are equipped with bypass tunnels which convey sediment-laden waters to downstream...

Mountain rivers swollen by heavy rainfall deposit large amounts of sediment in reservoirs. To prevent the loss of storage capacity, some reservoirs are equipped with bypass tunnels which convey sediment-laden waters to downstream reaches. The fact that such tunnels offer ecological benefits as well as economic advantages was shown, for example, by a study carried out on the Solis reservoir in Graubünden.

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This satellite photo shows Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela on 7 February 2011. The green areas in the lake represent plankton; primarily blue algae, growing under the surface. (Photo: ESA)
October 4, 2018 –

When does the poisonous blue alga reach its critical point and how does the lake react to heat waves? In the future, satellite pictures will answer these questions in real time. This is demonstrated by an Eawag researcher’s new...

When does the poisonous blue alga reach its critical point and how does the lake react to heat waves? In the future, satellite pictures will answer these questions in real time. This is demonstrated by an Eawag researcher’s new dataset. 

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Photo: Marie-Elodie Perga
September 18, 2018 –

Clear mountain lakes could change with ever greater frequency into milky soup in the future. Climate change is the guilty agent. This has been shown by a new study led by the University of Lausanne in collaboration with Eawag and...

Clear mountain lakes could change with ever greater frequency into milky soup in the future. Climate change is the guilty agent. This has been shown by a new study led by the University of Lausanne in collaboration with Eawag and the French National Agricultural Research Institute using the example of a French mountain lake.

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Thermal energy in lake water is often revealed in autumn: the water is markedly warmer than the air and evaporates – the lake thus becomes especially photogenic. (Photo: Adrien Gaudard, Eawag)
September 5, 2018 –

Climate warming is not the only cause of temperature changes in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. The use of waterbodies for heating and cooling also leads to increases or decreases in water temperature. There has been...

Climate warming is not the only cause of temperature changes in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. The use of waterbodies for heating and cooling also leads to increases or decreases in water temperature. There has been little research to date, however, on how this affects aquatic ecosystems. This lack of understanding has been highlighted by a recent literature review carried out at Eawag and the University of Bern.

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The surge chamber of Switzerland at the junctions of the Aare, Reuss and Limmat (Photo: VBS/DDPS)
August 30, 2018 –

A long-term study of Switzerland’s major watercourses has been continuing for almost 45 years. An evaluation of the time series shows that as the climate is changing, so are geochemical processes. Most of the measuring stations...

A long-term study of Switzerland’s major watercourses has been continuing for almost 45 years. An evaluation of the time series shows that as the climate is changing, so are geochemical processes. Most of the measuring stations show an increase in the concentrations of bicarbonate. The changes are caused by increases in temperatures, the presence of nutrients in the lakes and the acidity of the soil. On the other hand, following a peak in the late 1980s, nitrogen concentrations have been decreasing. The reasons for this are a reduced input of nitrogen in agriculture and improved elimination in wastewater treatment.

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Collecting samples on the Sihlsee reservoir. (Photo: SBB)
August 15, 2018 –

Eawag has studied how various pumped-storage hydropower scenarios affect temperature and water quality in the waterbodies concerned. In the case of Sihlsee, which serves as a reservoir for the SBB Etzelwerk plant, the question of...

Eawag has studied how various pumped-storage hydropower scenarios affect temperature and water quality in the waterbodies concerned. In the case of Sihlsee, which serves as a reservoir for the SBB Etzelwerk plant, the question of withdrawal depth was found to be crucially important. The study also highlighted the fact that the assessment of environmental impacts largely depends on the definition of the reference state: whereas in natural lakes water is discharged from the surface, in reservoirs it is withdrawn from the lower layer. The environmental and aesthetic impacts of pumped-storage operations in the riparian zone were not examined in this study.

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Bernhard Wehrli (Photo: Eawag)
August 10, 2018 –

Commitment to teaching: Eawag scientist Bernhard Wehrli took over the post of Director of Studies in Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich on August 1, 2018.

Commitment to teaching: Eawag scientist Bernhard Wehrli took over the post of Director of Studies in Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich on August 1, 2018.

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Thousands and thousands of years of climate history have been archived in stalactites. (pxhere/cc)
August 2, 2018 –

Eawag, the ETH Zurich and the University of Bern have developed a new instrument: the “Combined Vacuum Crushing and Sieving System” (CVCS). This device makes possible the extraction of minute water and noble gas inclusions that...

Eawag, the ETH Zurich and the University of Bern have developed a new instrument: the “Combined Vacuum Crushing and Sieving System” (CVCS). This device makes possible the extraction of minute water and noble gas inclusions that are thousands of years old from the pores of minerals in caves, without distortion by the present atmosphere.

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On the surface of various Swiss lakes, the water periodically turns a turquoise colour. This is due to calcite precipitation. (Photo: Sentinel-2 data provided by ESA, 2017)
July 19, 2018 –

Thanks to Copernicus – the EU Earth Observation Programme initiated in 2014 – environmental researchers now have access to vast amounts of high-quality satellite data. As this is also invaluable for aquatic research, Eawag is...

Thanks to Copernicus – the EU Earth Observation Programme initiated in 2014 – environmental researchers now have access to vast amounts of high-quality satellite data. As this is also invaluable for aquatic research, Eawag is currently expanding its capacity in the area of remote sensing.

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Almost 100 million plastic spheres reduce evaporation losses from the Los Angeles Ivanhoe reservoir. (Photo: Junkyardsparkle, CC0 1.0)
July 17, 2018 –

Black plastic balls, which aim to reduce evaporation losses from open-air reservoirs under drought conditions, are not quite as efficient as previously assumed. Considerable quantities of water are already used in their...

Black plastic balls, which aim to reduce evaporation losses from open-air reservoirs under drought conditions, are not quite as efficient as previously assumed. Considerable quantities of water are already used in their production. 

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On the Blinnenbach stream near Reckingen (canton of Valais), connectivity is disrupted by the weir of the Wannebode hydropower plant. (Photo: Eawag)
July 5, 2018 –

Small hydropower plants are often constructed on alpine streams, where they may have adverse impacts on sensitive ecosystems. Little is known, however, about the particular effects of individual plants, or the cumulative effects...

Small hydropower plants are often constructed on alpine streams, where they may have adverse impacts on sensitive ecosystems. Little is known, however, about the particular effects of individual plants, or the cumulative effects of multiple plants within the same river system. The current state of knowledge has now been reviewed in a study by Eawag researchers. 

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Clostridium bacteria make spores and occur frequently in intestinal flora. (Source: Annie Cavanagh https://wellcomecollection.org/works/ct6qa6fw?query=clostridium)
June 20, 2018 –

Antibiotic resistance is widespread in bacteria spores and preserved for years, as shown by experiments at Eawag and the University of Neuchâtel.

Antibiotic resistance is widespread in bacteria spores and preserved for years, as shown by experiments at Eawag and the University of Neuchâtel.

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April 10, 2018 –

Faced with polluted river water, rural communities or aid agencies often drill groundwater wells to obtain water supplies. But data collected systematically for the first time in the Amazon basin show that this “solution” can...

Faced with polluted river water, rural communities or aid agencies often drill groundwater wells to obtain water supplies. But data collected systematically for the first time in the Amazon basin show that this “solution” can create new problems: the groundwater may contain elevated concentrations of arsenic, manganese and aluminium – up to 70 times over the recommended limit in the case of arsenic, and up to 15 times for manganese.

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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? 

“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? 

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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...

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.

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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...

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.

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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...

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.

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2017

DNA sampling from a sediment core in the safe lab (Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag)
December 11, 2017 –

The composition of cyanobacterial communities in peri-alpine lakes has become increasingly similar over the past century. Climate warming and a period of eutrophication have favoured in particular potentially toxic species which...

The composition of cyanobacterial communities in peri-alpine lakes has become increasingly similar over the past century. Climate warming and a period of eutrophication have favoured in particular potentially toxic species which can adapt rapidly to environmental changes. These are the findings of an Eawag-led study analysing DNA extracted from sediment cores.

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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...

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.

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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...

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.

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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...

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.

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Many years after pesticides are applied, residues can still be detected in soils. (Photo: Markus Bolliger, FOEN)
October 12, 2017 –

According to a study funded by the Federal Office for the Environment, pesticides or transformation products can persist in soils for a decade or more. In the study, Eawag and Agroscope scientists analysed topsoil samples...

According to a study funded by the Federal Office for the Environment, pesticides or transformation products can persist in soils for a decade or more. In the study, Eawag and Agroscope scientists analysed topsoil samples collected from 14 agricultural sites between 1995 and 2008 as part of the Swiss Soil Monitoring Network programme. 

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Sampling at the Werdhölzli treatment plant in Zurich. (Photo: Eawag, Elke Suess)
October 10, 2017 –

A study just published by Eawag scientists shows that gold and silver each amounting to around CHF 1.5 million a year are lost via effluents and sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland. The concentrations measured...

A study just published by Eawag scientists shows that gold and silver each amounting to around CHF 1.5 million a year are lost via effluents and sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland. The concentrations measured do not pose risks to the environment – and recycling would not be economically worthwhile. However, the study also produced surprising findings on other trace elements in wastewater, including rare earth metals such as gadolinium and the heavy metal niobium.

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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...

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).

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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...

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.

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Rotsee, © Eawag
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...

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.

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Fig. 1: The scientists investigated water chemistry and biology in reaches upstream and downstream of WWTPs. (Photo: Eawag)
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...

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. 

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Water quality - a deceptive idyll
May 23, 2017 –

The current issue of "Der Beobachter" takes a deep dive into Swiss watercourses. The comprehensive article presents the severe impairments of our rivers and streams - with a focus on pollution and construction.

The current issue of "Der Beobachter" takes a deep dive into Swiss watercourses. The comprehensive article presents the severe impairments of our rivers and streams - with a focus on pollution and construction.

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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...

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.

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Lake Constance: sustainable thermal use is possible in the case of deep Swiss lakes (Photo: plainpicture/Westend61/Holger Spiering)
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. 

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. 

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Sediment was retrieved with a Multicorer to allow for a detailed analysis of sediment biogeochemistry and its inhabitants along a transect of oxygen concentrations. (© R. North, Eawag, Switzerland)
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...

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.

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The medal, honouring Kirsten Oswald's excellent doctoral dissertation, has been presented at the graduation ceremony on January 20, 2017.
January 21, 2017 –

The medal, honouring Kirsten Oswald's excellent doctoral dissertation, has been presented at the graduation ceremony on January 20, 2017.

The medal, honouring Kirsten Oswald's excellent doctoral dissertation, has been presented at the graduation ceremony on January 20, 2017.

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