Research & Conservation

World’s hottest winter on record

All in Malta welcomed a drizzle of rain in March and April, but truth be told our islands were not alone in the struggle as Europe has recorded the warmest winter ever. Together with Australia’s bushfires, Antarctica’s record temperatures, Q1 2020 has not been an easy one for our delicate world.

Locally we had 40% of the usual amount of rainfall, and our farmers were sweating. Taking walks along the Chadwick Lakes and Buskett Gardens you could tell the area was arid for a while with hardened soil and no streams attracting a bustle of life, something which we are used to seeing while on those walks at this time of the year.

The average rainfall over our islands is generally between 520-550mm during the year, and our wet period this year delivered only 210mm of rain (since September 1st 2019) which is alarmingly low. Local scientists are calling this scenario desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes too dry to use as farmland due to large drought or inappropriate agricultural practices.

Our winds also removed any surface moisture sitting on the topsoil, so the desertification process can accelerate in times like these. The local freshwater communities, like the ones mentioned above, and Ghadira has suffered massively due to the dry patch and our natural vegetation is dying out. Mature trees are also shrinking due to the lack of water and our plant population suffered too.


Arctic Oscillation causing local drought

The Gozo Weather Page discussed the observation and explained a pressure pattern called the Arctic Oscillation which circles in the higher sections of the Northern Hemisphere. These cycles affect the circulation of currents throughout our planet, and the lower edge of this Oscillation is called the NAO or the North Atlantic Oscillation.

This can be positive or negative, and this year it was a positive cycle and because these cycles all affect each other, the currents coming from over the warmer African continent was free to travel up through Europe, with the Arctic Oscillation not preventing it from spreading such warm conditions all over Europe. Scientists predict the behavior of such currents as we can plan the future, and we have had Autumns like this before, most recently in 2015, but due to increasing changes in weather behavior, predicting the outcomes is becoming more and more challenging.


The Arctic Oscillation
The Arctic Oscillation explained by Research Gate


With all the drought, our local farmers are concerned that we will face “a severe shortage of local fruit and vegetables in Spring and Autumn”. Our beloved Watermelon, melons, and cherry plums will take a huge hit as they depend on the water table massively.

Our local population of bees will also be feeling the heat as they are not finding flowers to pollinate, and this can be a disaster for the ecological chain as they are fundamental to life.

One farmer told The Times of Malta: “Anybody still doubting the effects of climate change must be living on another planet…” so this testing time is a real warning shot to the world. Our very sources of life are being threatened massively.

Water is fundamental to life as it sets off a whole chain of events which is beautiful to see.


Dry Soil
The effects of no rain on soil. Dry, hard land with no produce.


Caps and bottles for money

Last year we loved your help and collected over 150,000 bottle caps, and this year we are going one further and accepting batteries too Com drop off your caps and batteries and exchange it for money. The best part of the deal: all money will be donated to charity and will help protect our oceans! You also get 1 free child entry with 10 bottle caps or 5 batteries!


The campaign was launched last February