Our Planet and the Universe

The secrets of the Universe

Gravitational waves marked the year with the Virgo interferometer, which can measure the equivalent of a fraction of an atom across the distance between Earth and the Sun. This technological prowess opens a window onto the Universe and means an aspect of Einstein's theory of general relativity can now be tested for the first time.


Eutrophication: the scientists’ verdict

To assess the extent of eutrophication, the French Ministries of Ecology and Agriculture entrusted the CNRS with delivering a Collective Scientific Expert Report (ESCo) in partnership with the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), IFREMER11. Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer and the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA). The results of this work were presented at a conference.

The origins of eutrophication are well known. Population growth, urban concentration, industrialization and intensive farming have all led to an increase in the flow and concentrations of nutrients in the aquatic ecosystems. However the analysis of 4000 bibliographic references by around forty scientists from a wide spectrum of disciplines makes the whole picture clearer. “Compared with previous decades, we have discovered increasingly widespread sources of pollution. This generates very long response times from the ecosystems and ensuing consequences that may be a long way from the original pollution sources,” points out Gilles Pinay, who led the project. “We are also highlighting the negative effect of climate change on this phenomenon, the result of which is that returning to the original conditions is now virtually impossible.”

While the ESCo report highlights the emergence of increasingly precise models, it also emphasises the need for integrated and adaptative pollution management. It suggests ways to improve aquatic ecosystem quality assessment, in particular as part of the EU Water Framework Directive.

Restitution de l’expertise scientifique collective sur l’eutrophisation


LIGO-Virgo, a new astronomy is born

Two exceptional observations have been made since the Virgo interferometer came into operation alongside its two LIGO alter egos.


Putting forest biodiversity into equations

A mathematical model to come to the rescue of biodiversity in a context of global warming.


Highest-energy cosmic rays prove to be of extragalactic origin

According to recent studies and contrary to previous belief, cosmic rays do not originate from the Milky Way.


Outlining scientific ecology and sketching out its future

The scientific community flocked to the third “Prospectives” conference run by the CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE) in Bordeaux (southwestern France).

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Underground carbon sequestration: bacteria are spoiling the party

Injecting carbon dioxide into the subsurface may be ineffective due to the negative effect of bacteria.


The rings of Jupiter reproduced in the laboratory

The complexity of Jupiter’s dynamics continues to fascinate researchers, who are developing new models to elucidate its mysteries.


SPHERE has detected its first giant exoplanet

Cutting-edge technology has opened a new window onto the Universe and made it possible to look into giant planets like never before.


Adaptation—a new challenge?

From fundamental concepts to societal issues, adaptation underlies the research work carried out at the Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE)

News in brief


In brief

Make our planet great again


Following the departure of the USA withdrawal from the Paris Aagreement on climate change, Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, launched the priority research programme Make our pPlanet Ggreat aAgain and conferred handed its scientific steering to the CNRS. Eighteen projects were selected by an international juryfrom the 1,822 applications from over a hundred countries, the majority coming from the USA. A second selection phase began in April 2018.

The ERC celebrates 10 years of existence


The European Research Council (ERC) celebrated its 10th year in at the CNRS, in the presence of a delegation of the countries of the EU-13 member states. Organized in the form of a day of’s work, the event has given a new impetus to the cooperation with these countries. The dDiscussions concerned revolved around the creation of a partnership between their respective scientific institutions and the CNRS in order and their institutions to share their experience of answers towards calls for related to ERC tenderscalls for proposals.