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Environmental research Floating research platform to test changes in Lake Geneva

floating research platform in Lake Geneva

The floating research platform is to stay for the next 10 years.

(Natacha Pasche)

Swiss researchers have set up an innovative floating platform in Lake Geneva to test environmental changes, despite opposition from local inhabitants in Pully, near Lausanne. 

On board are “countless radiosondes and sensors which should enable reserachers […] 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”, says a press releaseexternal link from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, EAWAG. 

The platform, dubbed “LéXPLORE”, is a joint project between EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne.   

Lakes can serve as “sensitive early warning signals for environmental change,” says aquatic physicist and EAWAG director Johny Wüest. 

+ Read about plastic pollution in Lake Geneva

The research station is to operate near Pully in Switzerland’s western Vaud canton until 2026, “revealing hourly, seasonal and long-term changes”, according to the press release. Researchers say they also want to work with lake users, and that professionals in the fishing, boating and ferry trade, environmental protection and public authorities should be able to make use of the data and new findings “straight away”. 

“This platform is the most cutting edge floating lake-research station in the world,” says limnologist Natacha Pasche, who is leading the project at EPFL. 

The water under the platform has a depth of 140 metres. All the measuring equipment and detectors are to be installed over the next few months. There will, for example, be a meteorological station that measures winds and temperatures every day, and detectors in the water to measure light, turbulence, oxygen, CO2, different groups of algae and all sorts of natural and man-made substances. 

The installation for 10 years of this 100 square-metre platform surrounded by buoys marking an exclusion zone aroused the anger of some local inhabitants. But an appeal against it was dismissed by the cantonal court  at the end of 2016.

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