Info Day Magazine 2022: Dynamics of water - new tools, new opportunities

Monitoring surface waters has long been a tradition in Lausanne, where the Info Day 2022 took place, particularly since the discipline of limnology was first established on Lake Geneva by François-Alphonse Forel around 125 years ago. The Info Day Magazine 2022 gives an overview of recently developed monitoring methods and discusses the opportunities and limitations associated with these new technologies.

The dynamics of aquatic systems can be measured and understood thanks to the high-frequency monitoring that is achieved using in-situ and satellite sensors as well as those in drones and smartphones. These data sets allow the various processes to be analysed within very short time frames, and even sometimes in real time and on an automated basis. The data so recorded can be used to model the quantity and quality of surface waters, whether they are catchments, urban systems or lakes. One of the current challenges in this area consists in using these new tools to improve watershed management.

In focus

«A holistic view of the catchment area is needed»

«A holistic view of the catchment area is needed»
Mr Bouffard, you were instrumental in the conception of the Info Day “Dynamic Waters: New Tools, New Opportunities” at Eawag. Why is this symposium necessary?

The “Datalakes” platform

The “Datalakes” platform
“Datalakes” makes data on physical, biological and chemical measurements of surface waters publicly and freely available. The platform’s computers continuously record and store data collected by sensors in situ, meteorological stations, satellites and other methods.

LéXPLORE – the floating research station

LéXPLORE – the floating research station
A globally unique research facility has been floating on Lake Geneva since 2019. With automatic measuring sensors and multidisciplinary collaboration, it will significantly improve our understanding of lakes.

Real-time monitoring of micropollutants

Real-time monitoring of micropollutants
The results surprised even the researchers. In a small stream – which, like many others, flows through fields and orchards – pesticide concentrations were measured in early summer 2019 that exceeded the permissible maximum by up to 30 times. This has been made visible by “MS2field”, a mass spectrometer brought into the field.

Optimising wastewater management and protecting water bodies

Optimising wastewater management and protecting water bodies
Natural waters are regularly polluted by the discharge of wastewater from combined sewage systems. With the help of a “digital twin”, the management of wastewater systems can be improved and water pollution decisively reduced.

Environmental monitoring from space Environmental monitoring from space
Since 2014, the European Copernicus Programme has been using satellites to collect data for environmental monitoring that is freely available for research. From this, Eawag obtains water quality indicators such as chlorophyll-a concentrations for the thirty largest Swiss lakes and develops approaches to integrate these indicators into conventional environmental monitoring.
«I have never worked on such a sought-after topic before» «I have never worked on such a sought-after topic before»
Environmental engineer Tamar Kohn has been a professor at the EPFL since 2007. She heads the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry (LCE) there and studies how viral pathogens behave in the environment. In the following, she provides insights into the Covid monitoring in wastewater that she co-initiated.
Fish on chips, or how Kristin Schirmer saves animal lives Fish on chips, or how Kristin Schirmer saves animal lives
Fish on chips – what sounds like the national dish of the British is actually the result of an extraordinary career as a researcher that was originally planned quite differently.
Monitoring pollutants in sediments Monitoring pollutants in sediments
A new strategy developed by the Ecotox Centre shows how sediment quality can be assessed uniformly in Switzerland and thus lays the foundation for nationwide monitoring. The process is currently being tested in the canton of Bern.
Information on flooding via social media Information on flooding via social media
Thanks to an automatic image processing method that was developed by Eawag together with photrack AG and the ETH Zurich, mobile phone videos posted on the Internet can be used as an important source of data during a flood. Rescue forces can thus take highly targeted protection measures or warn the population at an early stage.
Innovative river management with the aid of drones

Drones have cut the cost of aerial photography so significantly that this technology is now becoming attractive for monitoring rivers. Provided that the analyses are conducted correctly, these aircraft can be employed to quantify river dynamics and model outflows and habitats. The following examples showcase the potential of the new technology.

Cover picture: View of the mouth of the River Rhône into Lake Geneva. Infra-red and hyperspectral cameras on the aircraft measure the water temperature and quality as well as other data.
(Photo: Damien Bouffard, Eawag)


Claudia Carle Science editor Tel. +41 58 765 5946 Send Mail

Info Day Magazine (German) as PDF

Order Info Day Magazine

Impressions of the Eawag Info Day 2022