Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

A Swiss scientist prints 3D coral reefs

Ulrike Pfreundt, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has used a 3D printer to create structures that can be used to build artificial coral reefs with more resilient corals.

Increasing water temperature disturbs the coexistence of corals and their symbiont algae. The corals expel the algae and in time in effect they starve to death. The process is known as coral bleaching.

“If the world’s oceans continue to warm up at this pace, more than 90 pecent of all coral reefs are in danger of dying by 2050,” said Ulrike Pfreundt.

And it is not only the corals that are at risk: the reefs are the breeding grounds for at least a quarter of oceanic fish species. Losing the coral reefs could have a devastating effect on the stability of marine ecosystems. In addition, coral reefs also provide natural protection for coastal regions, thereby also providing a direct service to humanity.

The scientist and her colleagues have used a 3D printer to produce artificial structures that coral larvae can settle on. Despite the higher temperature, not all corals die immediately. Pfreundt started with the assumption that some areas will continue to be suitable for coral reefs, for instance if there is a cooling current nearby.

34-year-old Ulrike Pfreundt is a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich Photo: ETH Zurich/Peter Rüegg
Further information: ETH Zurich

Using sunlight to clean water

Researchers at the University of Szeged are working on a nanotechnological water treatment device. Their innovation may provide clean water for millions worldwide in the future.

Leonardo DiCaprio helps create new environmental alliance

Leonardo DiCaprio, the Hollywood star famous for his environmental activism, has joined billionaire investors and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth to found a new non-profit world organisation for environmental protection.

World’s largest floating solar park to be built in Singapore

Solar farms installed in agricultural areas and solar panels fitted to the roofs of buildings are no longer a rarity these days. Their efficiency, however, is not optimal, and occupying crop land isn’t a very practical solution, either. In China and Singapore, attempts are being made to maximize the production of renewable energy by using waterborne, floating photovoltaic power generation systems.

The UN Secretary General urges immediate action to avoid a climate catastrophe

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, UN Secretary General António Guterres emphasised that the process of climate change is happening faster than predicted.

The worst ocean polluting countries to join the effort to eliminate waste

The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to adopt a joint declaration to combat marine plastic waste.

DiCaprio sends the message again: we are still on track to destroy our world

Only a few years after the brutally honest documentary Before the Flood, a new film has been made, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, about the shocking consequences of global warming. Ice on Fire seeks to find out whether we can still reverse the impact of climate change.

Costa Rica sets an example

The Central American country has been a paragon of environment-friendly governance for decades. It has set the ambitious goal of phasing out fossil fuels altogether by 2050.

Global temperature may rise by as much as 3 degrees

Due to the insufficient commitments of governments so far, global temperature may increase by twice the tolerable amount, 3 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century relative to the preindustrial period, warned UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

Extensive cooperation to stop marine pollution

At their meeting in Japan, the environment ministers of G20 countries agreed on a global framework for the introduction and application of measures to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste pollution.

German cities declare climate emergency

During environmental and climate emergencies, local decision-makers must place an even greater emphasis on the principle of ecological sustainability in their decisions.