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Department of Geography

#GIUZ #ImageOfTheWeek

Local Food at Irchel

Local Food at Irchel
Autumn in its full colors: This is locally grown organic fruit and vegetables that you can pick up at Irchel. Carrots, red cabbage, radicchio, spinach and apples were recently in the Irchel-Bag. Would you like to color up the gray season? Give it a try and get 10% off your first order with the code "IrchelGmües". Image: Christiane Meyer-Habighorst

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Wo das Eis tanzt: Ekstase am Jakobshavn Gletscher

Der Fotograph Fridolin Walcher hat im Sommer 2023 ein Forschungsteam des GIUZ an die Kalbungsfront des produktivsten Gletschers in Westgrönland begleitet. Seine Bilder sind bis 3. Dezember 2023 in einer Ausstellung in der Photobastei Zürich zu sehen, aus Anlass des Jubiläums des Schweizer Pressefotografen-Verbands. Bild: Fridolin Walcher

Gletschermessungen mit Action-Faktor

Der Zugang zu den Messstationen ist nicht immer einfach, manchmal ist ein mutiger Sprung über eine Gletscherspalte nötig (Findelgletscher, Zermatt). Aber immer gilt: Sicherheit geht vor! Bild: Matthias Huss (GLAMOS)

Die schweizweiten Messungen von GLAMOS haben auch für dieses Jahr mit 4% Eisverlust der Schweizer Gletscher wieder Rekordwerte ergeben. Bei fast allen Gletschern wurde der zweithöchste Eisverlust seit Messbeginn gemessen. Mehr ...

Glacier cake – or how to prevent glaciers from melting

Once again, our students were given an insight into field methods and their practical application for investigating processes in high mountain environments. Image: Isabelle Gärtner-Roer

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GEO 411 Field studies on high mountain processes

Summertime is fieldwork time …

… for example in Greenland. Our researchers investigate processes of glacier calving and iceberg export, as well as the resulting hydro-dynamics and nutrient fluxes in the fjord. Image: Ethan Welty

Observing the earth from above

The ARES project (Airborne Research for the Earth System) develops high-precision instruments for Earth observation and is one of the prioritized national research infrastructure projects. The picture shows the area east of Wangen an der Aare. (Image: ARES)

erschreckend schöne Bilder

Die Bilder spielen mit unseren Emotionen, die Sachlichkeit erschliesst sich auf der zweiten Ebene. Und sie wecken eine spielerische Lust, auch das nächste Bild zu entschlüsseln: Fakten und Prognosen zum Klimawandel als populär verständliche Bilder inszeniert, noch bis 2. Juli 2023 in der Photobastei Zürich. Eintritt frei!

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Zurich in ... red!

Zurich is a city with lots of green spaces, but red in this false colour image. Why? Satellites capture what vegetation reflects, namely the near infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Very nice to see in the installation "Top View" by Claudia Röösli, Valentina Tamburello and Isabelle Helfenstein as part of the Planet Digital Exhibition in 2022. Image: CNES (2021), distribution Airbus D&S

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Geographers in the wild as cover subject of the UZH annual report 2022

Participants of a collaborative seminar at GIUZ and Tbilisi State University explore the challenges faced by both the Alps and the Caucasus region – with the help of a custom-developed app. From left: Madleina Dreier (semester assistant), Alessandro Joshua Pierro, (student), Annina Michel (module leader) and Ella Schubiger (student). Image: Dan Cermak

Innovative Teaching: Share Your Mountain Landscapes
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Alte Geräte neu entdeckt

Alte Geräte neu entdeckt
Von Theodoliten und Kippregeln, über Höhenmesser und Hygrometer, bis hin zu Stereoskopen und Planimeter, besitzt das GIUZ einige alte Instrumente und historische Schätze, die im letzten Jahrhundert im Dienste der Geographie eingesetzt wurden. Diese teilweise über 100 Jahre alten Gegenstände werden aktuell systematisch erfasst und inventarisiert. Bild: Shaun Jung


Future geographers wanted!

Future geographers wanted!
Curious children? The NPOC for Satellite Data offers workshops on remote sensing and Earth observation for children of all ages to foster their interest in STEM subjects. Image: NPOC

Berge sind die «Wassertürme» der Erde

Berge sind die «Wassertürme» der Erde
Der Rosegbach im Oberengadin ist Teil des Donaueinzugsgebietes, wo über ein Drittel der 46 Millionen Tieflandbewohner:innen vom Wasser aus dem Gebirge abhängen. #WorldWaterDay. Bild: Daniel Viviroli

Why do we create virtual forests?

Combining 3d measurements and radiative transfer models helps to improve forest monitoring and to increase understanding of ecosystem functioning. Image: Felix Morsdorf

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Morgenstimmung im Irchelpark

Morgenstimmung im Irchelpark
Ein magischer Ort und ein wunderschöner Arbeitsweg. Bild: Sandra Altorfer


Safety first!

Safety first
Rope handling and best practices for safety management are indispensable parts of our fieldwork. The last time we practised this was on Chli Schijen in Central Switzerland in November 2022 – and we had a lot of fun! (Image: Ethan Welty)

Prüfungsvorbereitung aus der anderen Perspektive

Aufsichtspersonal finden und instruieren, Prüfungen und Aushänge drucken, Sitzpläne zeichnen, technische Abklärungen treffen, etc. Und immer ein Worst-Case-Szenario bereit haben! Wir ATPs kümmern uns um die komplexen Abläufe, damit eure Prüfungen erfolgreich über die Bühne gehen. (Bild: Corinne Wyss)


Sky glow on the Adriatic coast of Croatia

Sky glow on the Adriatic coast of Croatia
Light pollution is caused by atmospheric scattering and is suspected to impair bird migration. Over the Adriatic Sea, birds migrate in spring towards the north-east and approach the coast from the sea (green triangle). Using ornithological BirdScan radar (pink dots) and weather radar (red areas), we will observe bird migration and its impairment by light pollution in spring 2023. (Image: Simon Hirschhofer)

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Why is the water so green?

Why is the water so green?
It looks toxic but isn’t. With the help of tracer measurements and little technical equipment we can determine the discharge of glacier-fed mountain streams. Image: Alina Motschmann

Field measurements in the Palcacocha valley, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
The water is essential for people living downstream and the inhabitants of the Rio Santa Valley. Due to climate change the glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca are receding and with it a vital water resource.

SNSF Scientific Image Competition

EClim: Research Group on Environment and Climate

Life in old age

Nepal is experiencing rapid ageing, which is especially accelerated by outmigration of the younger generation from the mountainous regions. Image: Sarah Speck

Maya Chhettri, picture, is living alone and has to work everyday to maintain a living, her sons migrated and her husband died almost 20 years ago. The only help she gets is her allowance which is especially targeted for widowed women, she was lucky to know about that allowance thanks to her neighbours. 

Sarah Speck: Ageing in the Global South: A case study on life in old age from Nepal PhD Thesis 2020
SNSF Scientific Image Competition 2018

Himalayan ice beauty

Himalayan ice beauty
On the surface of debris-covered glaciers, meltwater from supraglacial channels incise ice cliffs forming these abstract shapes of remarkable beauty. Image: Boris Ouvry

Read more about Boris' fieldwork in the Swiss Polar Institute Blog.

Erschreckend schöne Bilder

Lernende der Fachklasse Grafik Luzern haben in einem Kooperationsprojekt mit dem GIUZ Fakten und Prognosen zum Klimawandel als populär verständliche Bilder inszeniert: Ausstellung in den Schaukästen des Geographischen Instituts, Gebäude 25, Stock H und online verfügbar.
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3D animation of image-based drone data of the forest directly above the Campus Irchel

Mapping forest vegetation structure from the ground to the crown enables the study of interactions between tree stands, biodiversity and ecosystem functions. (Animation: Felix Morsdorf)

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Rockglacier Val da l’Acqua

The rockglacier Val da l’Acqua
Engadine rock glaciers are among the 100 geological world heritage sites. GIUZ has a long tradition of research there. Image: Alessandro Cicoira

Fieldwork on Greenlands fastest glacier

Installing instruments on the extremely crevassed glacier Sermeq Kujalleq is only possible from the helicopter, and recovering them after weeks or months an art anyway. Image: Ana Nap

3D model of a small gold mine in Kamituga

Beneath the surface of the global tech industry: the gold business remains uneven and non-transparent. Screenshot: ZHdK, Gabriel Kamundala

Exhibiton Kamituga | Digital Gold
Panel discussion 4.11.2022
as part of "Zurich meets Berlin" at Berlin Science Week 4.-8.11.2022

The cultural landscape in Truso Valley, Georgia

In the Kazbegi Municipality, the Caucasus farmers try to combine the conservation of old ruins with new agricultural activities and tourism. Image: Gvantsa Salukvadze

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Field work at the ice-ocean boundary in southern Greenland

Image: Ethan Welty

Researchers enjoy the fog bow as they prepare to make another water temperature measurement in the iceberg-filled fjord of Nordre Sermilik in southern Greenland (map). The work is part of the multidisciplinary Greenfjord project to determine how Greenlandic fjord ecosystems will be impacted as glaciers retreat onto land and icebergs disappear from coastal waters.
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Never stop playing – hydrology is fun!

Take a look at this eye-catching cartoon subtly capturing the individual personalities of our Hydrology & Climate (H2K) staff members. Who do you recognise? Cartoon: Steph's Sketches

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A cathedral of ice, more than 200 meters high, is raised and immediately destroyed

Jakobshavn Isbrae, West Greenland is one of the fastest glaciers on Earth. Every year, it discharges more than 50 gigatonnes of ice to the ocean in the form of large icebergs. Video: Adrien Wehrlé

In July 2022, a team of the Glaciology Group camped in front of this giant to deploy instruments at its surface. We were lucky enough to witness several large-scale calving events like the one in this video – shown here in triple speed. 
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Geographiestudierende auf einer Exkursion im Unterengadin

Studierende erheben Leistungen, welche die alpine Landschaft Besucherinnen und Besuchern zur Verfügung stellt. Bild: Norman Backhaus

Findelgletscher seen from space

Remote sensing in the optical and thermal infrared domain helps to improve our understanding of the spatio-temporal variations in the Earth’s surface energy budget. Click on the image for full resolution or view the picture printed in large format at GIUZ on the J-floor corridor. Image: Kathrin Naegeli

This was one example of research input presented by a visiting scientist during the “Girls on Ice Switzerland” program: Gletschererlebnis nur für Mädchen
Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing

Tägliche Käsepflege

Wie werden die Vorschriften der Lebensmittelsicherheit bei der Herstellung von Alpkäse umgesetzt? Simon Zoja besuchte für seine Masterarbeit Alpbetriebe in Graubünden und Bern. Bild: Mayk Wendt

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Calibrating the new spectrometer at Laegern tower

Working and having a beautiful view at the same time: With the spectrometer we can measure the sun induced fluorescence in the forest canopy. Picture: Jasmin Kesselring

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Tropical beauty: Bromeliads growing in front of the Veronica glacier, Central Andes, Southern Peru

Tropical beauty: Bromeliads growing in front of the Veronica glacier, Central Andes, Southern Peru
High insolation and warmth during the day, but temperatures below freezing during the night: Only highly adapted organisms can survive in the harsh conditions in the tropical Andes. Picture: Fabian Drenkhan

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Field work in Val Piora, Ticino, during an excursion for Earth System Science students

Field work in Val Piora, Ticino, during an excursion for Earth System Science students
The valley is famous for high biodiversity and unique geology. Picture: Michael Schmidt

Rainfall simulation in the Alps

Distinction in the 2019 Scientific Image Competition of the Swiss National Science Foundation. Picture: Florian Lustenberger

The picture won a distinction in the 2019 Scientific Image Competition of the Swiss National Science Foundation. 
Comments of the jury: "(...) The viewer is surprised by an apparently surreal situation: artificial rain created high up in the mountains. The photograph depicts practical field research as a pursuit which requires hard and even physical work, while suggesting the sense of insecurity we feel in the light of the Anthropocene and the challenges it poses for humanity." More ...

Field work in the Tyrrhenian Sea #WorldOceanDay

Monitoring marine plankton requires data from satellites hundreds of kilometres above us - but samples also need to be taken directly on site. Picture: Luca Fiorani

Field work at Eqip Sermia glacier, West Greenland

Fieldcamp near the calving glacier, right next to the old cabin of the 1950s French expedition. Picture: Isabelle Gärtner-Roer

Artisanal gold labour in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Day after day miners toil under precarious conditions to extract the rare natural materials and gold for our smartphones and computers. Picture: Gabriel Kamundala

Kamituga | Digital Gold
SNSF Scientific Image Competition: This picture is one of the 344 submitted works in 2022.

Studying biodiversity from space

Satellite and aerial images complement each other and provide information about functional diversity of forests, here at Laegern near Zurich. The different colors represent proxies for pigments and the water content in the canopy. Picture: Isabelle Helfenstein et al.

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Bartang-Tal in Tadschikistan

Bartang-Tal in Tadschikistan
Traditionelles Wissen der Lokalbevölkerung trägt zum Naturschutz und zur nachhaltigen Entwicklung des Tals im tadschikischen Pamirgebirge bei. Bild: Norman Backhaus

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Sahara dust covers the icefall of the Ischmeer glacier

Swiss and British cryosphere researchers recently met on Jungfraujoch and enjoyed stunning views of the surrounding glaciers. Picture: Andreas Vieli

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Mount Rigi, Central Switzerland

Mount Rigi, Central Switzerland
En route to a target area as part of our ESA CHIME 2021 scientific airborne imaging campaign to provide calibration and validation measurements for future satellite missions. Picture: Andreas Hueni

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Some lights never go out.

Some lights never go out
Servers at GIUZ, the electronic backbone of everyday research, teaching and administration. Picture: Patrick Marchi

You don’t think at email, your private home space, to the shared group and data spaces, the GIUZ wikis, the department web sites, the roombooking tool, your project’s virtual server, network connectivity, the printers on your floor, authentication for ArcGIS online, your course’s disk space, the backup of your data, your measured data in the wild, your device lifecycle, available geodata, round the clock access to the course infrastructure, replacment laptop, your database server, forgotten adapter, custom designed data synchronization service, webmail access, preconfigured laptop, network security, mailing lists, your specialized geoserver, support and ticketing system, the latest meteodata, the jupyterhub server for your course, all the time.

Because we do.

Some lights are out? You need additional lights? We are happy to help, don’t hesitate to contact Jörg, Patrick, Roya or Thomi.


Water splashes in the Triftbach River (Matter Valley, Valais)

#WorldWaterDay: Water is a key resource of the 21st century and an important link between mountain and lowland regions. Picture: Daniel Viviroli

Digital painting of a scene at Oeschinensee near Kandersteg

Digital painting of a scene at Oeschinensee near Kandersteg
In Geographic Information Science we make a lot of maps. In this work I combined the standardised colouring of land cover with landscape painting. Picture: Jingwen Zhang


Shrinking glaciers in the Andes of Peru

Shrinking glaciers in the Andes of Peru
Shrinking glaciers are changing water resources worldwide: adaptations are urgently needed, both at the regional and global level! Picture: C. Huggel

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Vom Rhonegletscher abgeschliffener Fels neben dem Gletschersee. Das abgeriebene Feinmaterial färbt den See milchig weiss. Bild: Rebecca Norton


Campus Irchel im Abendrot

Magische Abendstimmung im Irchel Naturpark - ein aussergewöhnlicher Arbeitsplatz mitten in Zürich. Bild: Isabelle Wüest

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Geochronologie lernen am "schönsten Fleck der Schweiz"?

Das ist möglich! Am Lai da Palpuogna in Graubünden. Die Anmeldung für die Summerschool 2022 ist bereits geöffnet! Bild: Thomas Keller

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Learning in the forest

GIUZ students visit nearby forests to learn how soil interacts with plants and environmental factors. Picture: Avni Malhotra

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Mobile shop in borough Stepantsminda, Kazbegi municipality, north-eastern Georgia

Authentic food distribution approach helps to distribute everyday goods and agri food mostly to peripheral villages. Picture: Gvantsa Salukvadze

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Andean landscape around Yuracmayo, Central Andes of Peru

The Yuracmayo reservoir (4320 m asl.) is located in the Central Andes of Peru surrounded by a diverse landscape and provides water for the country's capital further downstream. Picture: Fabian Drenkhan

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Getting the big picture of biodiversity

Getting the big picture of biodiversity
Satellites and other remote sensing tools offer new ways to study ecosystems – and maybe even save them.

Field work near Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland

We install a dGPS on an active rockglacier and enjoy marvellous views of the icebergs. Picture: Isabelle Gärtner-Roer

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Explaining the geography of plantation agriculture in Southern Italy

Project courtesy of Timothy Raeymaekers, Cantieri Meticci and

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Feldarbeit im Davoser Wald

Mit Hilfe des terrestrischen Laserscannings erfassen wir eine Punktwolke und erhalten so eine 3D-Darstellung des Waldes. Bild: Jasmin Kesselring

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Growing on rocks: Rendzina soil in Allgäuer Alps, Germany

Growing on the rocks
Rendzina is a shallow soil and common in the carbonate-rich parts of the Alps. The name is Polish and describes the sound of a plough hitting the solid rock. Picture: Marcus Schiedung

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Where we come from

Where we come from
One earth - many worlds: Spotlights visualize nationalities of GIUZ staff members. More than 30 nations are represented. Map: Armand Kapaj using ESRI’s World Imagery (Firefly) basemap

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Street-Food in Malaysia

Street-Food in Malaysia
Mit ihren Fertigkeiten stellen Strassenköche in Südostasien nicht nur frische Snacks her, sie sind auch eine Attraktion für Touristen und Touristinnen und Treffpunkte für die Lokalbevölkerung. Bild: Norman Backhaus

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Verflochtene Fliesswege

Der Findelbach im Vorfeld des Findelgletschers, Zermatt. Bild: Daniel Viviroli

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