CLIMACT Seminar Series - Special seminar with 4 recipients of the 2021 CLIMACT Starting Grants!


Event details

Date 30.01.2023 12:0013:15  
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language French, English

The CLIMACT seminar series “A Climate of Transformation” is an interactive online event. It takes place twice a month, every second Monday during your lunch break, with two new speakers.
Each episode aims to strengthen the dialogue and collaboration between key UNIL and EPFL scientists, swiss politicians, entrepreneurs and various actors from the civil society, through collective reflection.
A wide range of climate change-related topics will be discussed, integrating perspectives from all sectors and academic disciplines in order to generate new leads and initiatives towards systemic solutions.
Your expertise, ideas, critical thinking and vision for the future is essential. 
Join CLIMACT in the discussion!

Investigation of permafrost instability based on a thermo-mechanical numerical model
Presented by Dr Grégoire Bobillier I  Research scientist at WSL-SLF

The rise in global mean temperatures induced by climate change causes accelerated permafrost degradation. In high mountain rock slopes, rock falls in permafrost areas are triggered by decreasing restraining forces such as friction loss in joints or fatigue of rock bridges. Although our knowledge of the thermal influence on permafrost degradation has improved over the last decades, its mechanical effect on rock slope destabilization remains rather poorly understood.
In this presentation, Johan Gaume and his team modeled the Mont fort geological structure (Verbier, CH) using the 3D Distinct Elements Numerical Method (3DEC software) to simulate and analyze rock failure processes. Their developed thermo-mechanical joint model simulates the main permafrost rock destabilization processes, i.e. joint strength temperature dependency. The results show that temperature changes affect the rock stability deeper than the active layer.
The study advances the understanding of thermo-mechanical failure processes in permafrost rock slopes, with several potential applications in structural engineering and natural hazards.

Enhanced weathering for carbon sequestration: A case study for Swiss agricultural soils
Presented by Dr Nicolas Escoffier I  First assistant LAKES Research group I UNIL
In the context of current climate change trajectory, carbon dioxide removal technologies are receiving increasing interest. Among existing approaches, enhanced weathering (EW) represents a promising methodology relying on soil amendment with powdered silicate rocks to accelerate natural chemical weathering and associated atmospheric CO2 uptake. However, EW is still in early stages of evaluation with efficiency estimates often based on simplified representations of soil biogeochemical and hydrological transport processes, either from small-scale experiments or global-scale models.
Here, the project team developed a synthetic model linking expected CO2 capture with natural and technology-related CO2 emissions to assess the relevance of EW in Swiss croplands. Combining available techno-economic and specific carbon sequestration data with usually unaccounted geochemical processes, they show that the timescales to achieve net CO2 sequestration are highly variable and generally not satisfying current mitigation targets. These results provide a critical assessment of EW implementation and identify major blind spots underlying its effectiveness.

Did you say starting (grant)? Towards a data base and methodology to study Swiss urban soils environmental functions
Presented by Dr Antoine Vialle I Project Leader CCD I UNIL
In this presentation, Antoine Vialle will briefly summarize the goal and developed approached of my Climact-granted research project on carbon sequestration in urban soils within urban requalification projects. In particular, he will highlight how he took advantage of the so called “starting” grant as a seed money at an early stage of his researcher career by commenting the significant deviations from his initial proposal in terms of main scientific and societal outputs, but also critical challenges.

Stone pine colonisation in the Alps: ups and downs through a valley and the project
Presented by Dr Jan Skaloud I  Senior scientist at the Geodetic Engineering lab I EPFL
The project team combines modern aircraft-based sensors with deep-learning data analysis and in-situ observations to generate spatially explicit inventories of species in the treeline ecotone within one Alpine valley. When validated, the approach is intended to be extended over broad regions where in-situ measurements are not feasible and satellite imagery does not provide a sufficient level of detail. This information should enhance the forecasting capacity of species distribution models designed to predict the evolution of vegetation as a result of climate warming.
Jan Skaloud presents the methodology to achieve this goal after the envisaged approach had to be redesigned during the project, as the data collected by the world’s finest imaging spectrometer for the study did not meet the localization accuracy required. This highlights the importance of having the ability to implement and control all stages of the processing chain in-house and to present data openly in their raw form. 

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Julia Steinberger, University of Lausanne
    Athanasios Nenes, EPFL