Scientific Highlights

in the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry (LUC)

15 juin 2021
Teaser Ice Memory

‘Ice Memory Mission’ accomplished

Energy and Environment Enviroment

During its expedition to the Monte Rosa massif, the international Ice Memory team extracted two ice cores over 80 meters long from Colle Gnifetti, the oldest ice in the Alps.

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1 juin 2021
Teaser Monte Rosa

The glacial memory of the Monte Rosa

Energy and Environment Enviroment

The next mission to preserve the climate heritage of the Pennine Alps has begun: For the Ice Memory Project, researchers set off for Monte Rosa’s Colle Gnifetti.

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1 octobre 2020
Expeditionsleiterin Margit Schwikowski mit einem Eisbohrkern

"We were shocked how far advanced the melting is already"

Energy and Environment

An international expedition with the participation of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI discovers advanced glacial melting at an elevation of more than 4,000 metres on the Grand Combin in Valais. In the Alps, it may almost be too late for the Ice Memory project, which aims to save ice cores as a climate archive for future generations of researchers.

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17 octobre 2018
teaser picture

Why the Little Ice Age ended in the middle of the 19th century

Media Releases Energy and Environment Enviroment

In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth's climate. That Alpine glaciers grew and subsequently receded again during the final phase of the so-called Little Ice Age was due to a natural process. This has now been proven by PSI researchers on the basis of ice cores.

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26 septembre 2017
In the experimental chamber, a very thin vertical jet of water can be seen, which flows downward in the middle of the picture from a small tube. During the experiment, the chamber contains a gas mixture including ozone, which reacts on the surface with bromide in the water and produces bromine. As an intermediate step in the process, a short-lived compound of bromide and ozone is made, which was detected for the first time ever with the help of X-ray light from SLS. For this proof, the X-ray light knocked …

Light from the particle accelerator helps to understand ozone decomposition

PSI researchers have developed an experimental chamber in which they can recreate atmospheric processes and probe them with unprecedented precision, using X-ray light from the Swiss Light Source SLS. In the initial experiments, they have studied the production of bromine, which plays an essential role in the decomposition of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere. In the future, the new experiment chamber will also be available for use by researchers from other scientific fields.

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21 septembre 2017

Coexistence of Physisorbed and Solvated HCl at Warm Ice Surfaces

The interfacial ionization of strong acids is an essential factor of multiphase and heterogeneous chemistry in environmental science, cryospheric science, catalysis research and material science. Using Near Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron (NAPP) spectroscopy, we directly detected a low surface coverage of adsorbed HCl at 253 K in both molecular and dissociated states and interpret the results as physisorbed molecular HCl at the outermost ice surface and dissociation occurring upon solvation deeper in the interfacial region. This study gives clear evidence for nonuniformity across the air−ice interface and questions the use of acid−base concepts in interfacial processes.

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22 février 2017

Ice-core evidence of earliest extensive copper metallurgy in the Andes 2700 years ago

Although copper (Cu) was essential for the wealth of pre- and post-colonial societies in the Andes, the onset of extensive Cu metallurgy in South America is still debated. Based on a 6500 year ice-core Cu record from Illimani glacier in Bolivia we provide the first complete history of large-scale Cu smelting activities in South America. Earliest anthropogenic Cu pollution was found during the Early Horizon period ~700-50 BC. We attribute the onset of intensified Cu smelting in South America to the activities of the central Andean Chiripa and Chavin cultures ~2700 years ago. This study provides for the first time substantial evidence for extensive Cu metallurgy already during these early cultures.

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