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Congresses / Events
DEEPEN project workshop

The EU-funded DEEPEN project will hold a workshop and conference in Cork, Ireland, from 7 to 9 December 2016.

EUPATI final conference

The EU-funded EUPATI project will be hosting its final conference in Brussels, Belgium, on 14 December 2016.

Warm enough? Lake Geneva forecasts now online

03.08.16 - A new web service provides real-time information and forecasts of water temperature and surface water currents. First and foremost a tool for scientists, the map could help you find just the right beach for your next swim. 

If you have spent time on the beaches around Lake Geneva, you may already have noticed that some spots are warmer than others, and that the wind somehow plays into the equation. So which beach should you choose for your next swim?, an online platform with real-time 3D simulations of Lake Geneva, provides water temperature and current forecasts for the entire lake. The platform, which is open to the public, was initially developed to validate environmental data gathered by orbiting satellites. Beyond that, it contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamic processes playing out in the lake, with new insights into phenomena that conventional monitoring techniques are unable to observe.

For Theo Baracchini, the PhD student in the Physics of Aquatic Systems laboratory who created the platform, monitoring a lake’s entire volume is more essential today than ever before. “I think of lakes as sentinels of climate change. They contain a tremendous diversity of ecosystems, some which are likely to be among the first visible victims of a changing climate. But to pick up on this, we have to monitor them as a whole. The current approach, which involves sampling a lake at a single location once or twice a month at best is simply not enough anymore,” he says.

New avenues for lake science

The online platform lets viewers travel through time and follow the evolution of the lake temperature and surface water currents throughout the year. But the model driving the simulation does far more than that. “The challenge was to integrate different types of data into a single framework: classical point measurements, data sensed remotely from satellites, and data generated using computer simulations. Combining these three sources of data will allow us to provide a reliable and flexible global modeling framework for lakes in various regions of the world, starting with Lake Geneva as showcase for the technology,” he explains.

“Our simulation opens new avenues for studying 3D structures and meso-scale processes in lakes, that is, processes that play out over large portions of the lake and have often been neglected. For example, by simulating the interaction of the wind, using data provided by MeteoSuisse weather forecasts, with the water body, we capture phenomena such as upwelling, whereby fresh water from the depths of the lake is brought up to the surface,” says Baracchini.

Two tabs let users see transects of lake water temperature from the surface all the way down to the lakebed. “Once or twice a year, typically in spring and autumn, the thermocline – the line that separates warmer surface water from the cold deep water below – disappears and the lake water mixes. This process is essential for the lake ecosystem health,” says Baracchini.

A wealth of applications

Baracchini’s platform is the central component of CORESIM, a European Space Agency project that is funding his work. Initially destined to validate lake temperature and chlorophyll measurements made using the agency’s satellite-borne high-resolution sensing devices, the data it produces has a wealth of other applications. Fishermen could benefit from the platform to locate pronounced temperature gradients, an indicator of rich fishing grounds. Engineers could use it to design heating and cooling systems that utilize lake water. And environmental engineers could use it to predict the spread and dilution of pollutant plumes.

For Baracchini, modeling water temperature and surface currents of Lake Geneva is only a first step. In the future, he plans to simulate other factors, such as algae and oxygen concentrations and to apply his model to other Swiss lakes. And as a researcher who grew up next to Lake Geneva, keeping the platform open to the public is essential. “I am happy to provide an open, practical, and local application of our research to a broad audience,” he concludes. 

For a first look at the new platform, go to, and stay tuned for a more in depth view into the physics of Lake Geneva.

EPFL news
Creating 3D objects from inextensible sheet materials

02.08.16 - Researchers have developed an algorithm for creating complex objects by cutting holes in sheets of inextensible, but flexible materials such as metal, plastic and leather. It has potential applications in many areas, including microengineering, bioengineering, fashion and architecture.

EPFL researchers, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Hull, have come up with a method for creating everyday objects – like a mask or a shoe – from sheets of inextensible material. The process consists of cutting regular holes into the material so that it can be stretched and create complex 3D shapes. Previously, this was possible only with very simple objects.

EPFL researcher Mina Konakovic and her team have now come up with an algorithm that clears the way to creating much more complex shapes using materials that are flexible yet inextensible, such as plastic and metal. Cutting regular geometric shapes into the material changes its properties and makes it auxetic – which means it can stretch in two dimensions at the same time.

From architecture to space engineering
The method developed by the researchers uses computer simulation to identify exactly where to make the cuts and how to shape the material to create the 3D piece. Potential applications are far-ranging. “We could, for example, scan someone and create a piece of clothing that fits perfectly from a single piece of leather,” said Mark Pauly, who runs EPFL’s Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory. The researchers have tested their algorithm by making a high-heeled shoe, masks, a dress, and sculptures.

Thanks to its simplicity of use, the process could be applied in a wide range of fields, from small structures (microelectronics) to large ones (like building façades). The researchers will now look at what can be done by varying the cutouts rather than using a regular pattern. “It will be much more complex, but it could lead to some very interesting applications,” said Pauly.

This research was presented at the SIGGRAPH conference (International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques). For further information: Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory.

EPFL news
International Brokerage Event "CITIES OF THE FUTURE 2016" INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, Istanbul, Turkey. Friday, September 30, 2016

The Brokerage Event “Cities of the Future 2016” is organised by the ‘Turkey in Horizon 2020’ Project and TUBITAK National Coordination Office for the EU Framework Programmes.

It will cover the following topics:
‘Smart and Sustainable Cities’ and ‘Energy Efficient Buildings’
‘Sustainable Process Industries’ and ‘Circular Economy’
‘The European Green Vehicles Initiative’
‘Factories of The Future’

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