If this message is not displayed properly, click here please.


The Environment and Climate Research Hub Observer


Hot Topic

Our Environment and Climate Research Hub (ECH) is coming back to you with its first issue of the new ECHO newsletter, filled with environmental news in- and outside of the University of Vienna. This issue's hot topic is quite literally hot, as we are in the midst of another extreme summer that makes us realize the immediate consequences of climate change, once again. Scroll down to learn about Europe suffering from extreme heat, lakes all over the world drying out and even the Antarctic sea reaching new low levels of ice.

53 % of the largest lakes in the world are losing water, according to an assessment recently published in Science.


The Fastest-Warming Continent, Europe Has Already Heated by More Than 2° C

As summer has officially begun in the Northern hemisphere, new heat records are reached.
In the picture: The 2022 temperature anomaly across Europe as compared to the average from 1991 to 2020.

Antarctic sea ice reaches an early winter record low in June 2023

After reaching a record-low summer minimum earlier this year, Antarctic sea ice has reached a record-low extent, far below the previous record, for this time of the year.
In the picture: The antarctic sea ice concentration on June 27, 2023. For reference, this map includes the median ice edge for 1981–2010.

Environment @ UNIVIE

These are the most recent developments in environment and climate research at the University, with and without members of the ECH involved.

Review: Panel Discussion "Can We Still Be Saved?" (German)

The last semester question of the University of Vienna tackled the issue of Planetary Health. On June 19th, the researchers Ulrike Felt (ECH management board), the environmental geoscientist Thilo Hofmann (ECH co-director), the lawyer Michaela Krömer and the urban climatologist and company founder Simon Tschannett discussed the issue.

New 4-year EU project on nature-based therapies

Little is known about how effective or feasible it is to make nature-based therapies more mainstream, acceptable to both patients and healthcare professionals, while also recognising the possible impact on sensitive natural environments. The new €6.3million EU Horizon Europe and UK Research & Innovation funded RESONATE project (Building individual and community RESilience thrOugh NATurE-based therapies) will explore these issues.

The project is led by ECH member Dr. Mathew White of the University’s Cognitive Science Hub together with ECH co-director Prof. Sabine Pahl and Prof. Martin Voracek.

Pollutants go through the stomach (German)

Pesticides, contaminated food or packaging chemicals – pollutants from food and the environment often end up on our plates. Benedikt Warth, food chemist and ECH member, is investigating how this affects our health and how pollution can be reduced in the future.

A planetary sunscreen can probably cool the climate, but not solve the climate crisis

In this guest post, climate physicist and ECH member Blaž Gasparini explains recent attempts to counteract global warming by giving the planet "sun protection" – via injecting the gas sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere – and why this approach is broadly criticized by the scientific community.

Environment & Climate in the Media

Additionally, media and newspaper articles with recent environmental insights and developments are listed here.

More research on climate escape

The role that climate change and global warming play in migration and flight is the subject of heated debate in politics and among the general public. There are still many unanswered questions. A new international research network, in which the University of Vienna is also involved, now wants to put the debate on a knowledge-based foundation.

Invasive plants cause great damage

Summer is high season for neophytes: plant species that immigrate from other countries. Most are well integrated into the existing vegetation. Some, however, cause concern because they reduce biodiversity and alter the ecosystem. They cause damage to forests, agriculture and structures.

Tackle oil spills with biosurfactants

Can biosurfactants increase microbiological oil degradation in North Sea seawater? An international research team from the universities of Stuttgart und Tübingen, together with the China West Normal University and the University of Georgia, have been exploring this question and the results have revealed the potential for a more effective and environmentally friendly oil spill response.

Tracking down microplastics in the air

The smallest plastic particles pollute rivers and oceans. This is well known. The question of how much of it is in the air and what effects microplastics have in the atmosphere remains unexplored. ECH member Bernadett Weinzierl wants to change that.

Heat below the city

Cities also heat up strongly underground. Underground structures, sewage pipes or geothermal energy heat up the groundwater - this has an impact on biodiversity and water quality.

When light becomes too much

Light pollution is a problem for nature and science. In the journal Science, astrophysicist Stefan Wallner of the University of Vienna compares current methods and recommends uniform regulations to advance environmental protection. He also calls for a nationwide "light pollution law" for Austria.

Look out for:

Interesting events and/or projects about environment and climate that are happening in Vienna/Austria in the near future.

Umwelt im Gespräch: 10th Jubilee

The 10th jubilee of our popular event "Umwelt im Gespräch" is set for 10.10.2023 at the Natural History Museum Vienna. The event will be in German and registration under this link is required. Save the date and click here for further information!

Until next time!

Be sure to check out our website https://ech.univie.ac.at/ for further information on the ECH and more environment and climate news from the University of Vienna. While you are at it, feel also free to share the registration link for our newsletter with colleagues and friends that are interested in environment and climate research.