The role of streams and rivers for the global carbon cycle is now increasingly understood. However, the streams that drain the roof of our planet are rarely included in considerations of global biogeochemistry. This is surprising given the wide distribution of high-mountain ranges. At the same time, it is also understandable given the numerous logistical challenges associated with the study of remote high-mountain streams.
The METALP project at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) operates an environmental sensor network to study the hydrology and biogeochemistry of streams in four high-mountain catchments in Switzerland. We use high-resolution data over multiple years to establish regimes of streamwater flow, temperature, fine sediment load, and carbon fluxes, including CO2 exchange with the atmosphere, and ecosystem metabolism.
This unique observatory aims at better understanding the effects of climate change, including glacier shrinkage, on critical stream ecosystem functions and integrity.
METALP work has been featured in AGU Eos and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. METALP is associated with the StreamPulse Project.
catchments in the Swiss Alps
stations across the network
data recorded over 5 years
|Torrent du Valsorey Downstream||Torrent du Valsorey Upstream||Torrent du Vélan|
|Latitude [° ]||45.935034||45.929509||45.55677|
|Longitude [° ]||7.226898||7.244578||7.14752|
|Station altitude [m]||1936||2148||2161|
|Catchment avg alt. [m]||2868||2893||2548|
|Vegetated area [%]||27.72||24.69||65.35|
|Glacier coverage [%]||22.18||27.69||0|
|Dranse de Ferret Downstream||Dranse de Ferret Upstream||La Peule|
|Latitude [° ]||45.905091||45.883084||45.893655|
|Longitude [° ]||7.115597||7.130949||7.107973|
|Station altitude [m]||1773||1996||2024|
|Catchment avg alt. [m]||2421||2528||2384|
|Vegetated area [%]||50.07||39.60||61.19|
|Glacier coverage [%]||1.78||3.86||0|
|AvanÇon de Nant Downstream||AvanÇon de Nant Upstream||Ruisseau du Richard|
|Latitude [° ]||46.253409||46.231599||46.253521|
|Longitude [° ]||7.109632||7.101972||7.110105|
|Station altitude [m]||1197||1465||1192|
|Catchment avg alt. [m]||2010||2112||2081|
|Vegetated area [%]||50.00||42.58||50.71|
|Glacier coverage [%]||4.52||6.72||6.16|
|La Vièze Downstream||La Vièze Middle||La Vièze Upstream|
|Latitude [° ]||46.159321||46.157014||46.154945|
|Longitude [° ]||6.814734||6.801199||6.8002|
|Station altitude [m]||1416||1630||1689|
|Catchment avg alt. [m]||1778||1832||1870|
|Vegetated area [%]||99.88||100||100|
|Glacier coverage [%]||0||0||0|
Have a look at our most recent contributions
M. Boix Canadell; L. Gómez-Gener; A. J. Ulseth; M. Clémençon, S. N. Lane; T. J. Battin
Freshwater Biology. 2021-06-02.
Å. L. V. Horgby; L. Gómez Gener; N. Escoffier; T. I. Battin
Environmental Research Letters. 2019-12-19. Vol. 14, num. 12, p. 124082.
Å. Horgby; P. L. Segatto; E. Bertuzzo; R. Lauerwald; B. Lehner et al.
Nature Communications. 2019-10-25. Vol. 10, num. 1.
M. Boix Canadell; N. Escoffier; A. J. Ulseth; S. N. Lane; T. J. Battin
Geophysical Research Letters. 2019-08-16. Vol. 46, num. 15, p. 8872-8881.
Å. Horgby; M. Boix Canadell; A. J. Ulseth; T. W. Vennemann; T. J. Battin
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 2019-06-07.
A. J. Ulseth; R. O. Hall; M. Boix Canadell; H. L. Madinger; A. Niayifar et al.
Nature Geoscience. 2019-03-18.
In the media
Cartier, K. M. S. (2020). Mountain streams exhale more than their share of CO2, Eos, 101. Published on 20 April 2020.
EPFL news (2019). Mountain streams emit a surprising amount of CO2. Published on 25 October 2019.
RTS Info (2019). Les torrents contribuent nettement à produire des gaz à effet de serre. Published on 19 March 2019.
EPFL news (2019). EPFL researchers make a key discovery on how alpine streams work. Published on 18 March 2019.
EPFL news (2017). Alpine streams produce more CO2 after a warm winter. Published on 9 June 2017.
We currently have open positions for postdocs via the SNF and the Marie Curie research fellowship programmes.
We also offer internships to graduate and undergraduate students, Swiss civil servants and BNF participants (projects 4476_1 and 4476_2).
Interns will join the METALP project and integrate the River Ecosystems Laboratory (RIVER) at EPFL. They will regularly visit the network stations to maintain and calibrate the sensors, conduct hydrological experiments and collect grab samples for the quantification of streamwater nutriments, DOM and benthic biomass, that will lately be analysed in our lab. They will interact with scientist in the fields of stream ecology, hydrology, geomorphology and biogeochemistry.
Interns will acquire experimental knowledge and analytical skills in mentioned disciplines and they will be trained to the use of multiple instruments available at out laboratory.
Please use the Contact form for further information or send us an application.
Get in Touch
Feel free to contact us any time