Research & Conservation

Year 2050: A hotter Malta, and a London like Barcelona

In just three decades’ time, London can have Barcelona’s climate. At the current rate of Global Warming and Climate Change, our northern cities will get much warmer, and our Mediterranean places will start to feel like the desert.

Seeing as Maltese love to visit London, we might feel the city can use a little more sunshine. In London, it rains an average of 109.4 days per year and in those downpours 557.4mm of rain hit the city. It’s often wet, it’s often grey, but it is the London most of us love and flock to on a yearly basis. Can you imagine London, but with Barcelona’s sunshine. While she is pretty during a sunny day, too much sun in that city can be catastrophic, as last month’s heatwaves showed us.

Malta endures 90 days of rain per year, with the islands collecting 600mm per year in total, but even though the figure is more than London’s yearly count, our island’s are so dry in summer our water table does not fill rapidly. Also, our water table is often abused by farming factories and illegal boreholes dug up around the islands, purging the water table. Right now the groundwater levels are extremely low, as the Times of Malta reported back in June and with less rain and more sun, the problem of an increase in temperature is a concerning one.

Measuring groundwater

These areas are not used to the sun. The heatwaves caused rail closures bus delays and even death as the locals struggle to cope with the heat. Most of the northern cities do not make use of air conditioners, while many residences do not keep a fan at home. While these things are obvious to us Maltese, northerners simply do not warrant them due to their current climates. Our cities, and islands included, can experience a rise of 3.5 degrees Celsius during the summer months, and an additional one degree during the winter months. Your typical day will not be rainy, but when it does rain, problems can follow due to flash flooding.

The study, published by Crowther Lab, focused the world’s major cities and how they will struggle with raising climate temperatures. They add that by 2050 the climate in the Maltese Islands will be similar to a current Tel Aviv. This means that our temperature will be 1.7 degrees Celsius higher than our average today.

The below graphs compare Tel Aviv and Malta today, and are sourced from Weather and Climate.

They may look similar, with Tel Aviv being warmer in terms of the highest recordings, but have you noticed the increase in the red zone? December will see us hit the 20s, and while January remains the wettest month, it is still almost 5 degrees warmer.

The studies show that 77% of the cities will experience drastic changes, and as our islands get drier the strain on the economy increases. In 2008, 22 million euros was spent on importing water during the drought in Barcelona. On an island which struggles for freshwater due to a severely dilapidated water table, this reality will hit us hard. Let’s not forget the environmental impact of importing such massive amounts of water in plastic bottles has on the world.

We need to keep doing our part by raising awareness to our local politicians to ensure the island staves off this climate-change and keeps that alarming rise in temperature as low as possible. 1.7 degrees on a cold day is easy to ignore, but in the summer months, when tourism peaks and rain is so low, that increase is not so low after all.  

Resistant Super-corals are a lifeline!

As the world endures unprecedented levels of change, the emergence of super corals can have a huge impact on the natural world. Super-corals are corals which survive and thrive in areas we initially deemed as unsuitable for coral growth.

With the Great Barrier Reef now terminally ill, scientists have been searching for species that do well in unexpected territories, and lo and behold the super coral emerged, where it was least expected. A set has been located in hot, acidic and hypoxic areas and from this we can see how resilient this vital organism really is. Super-corals have been found in New Caledonia, islands far off Australia’s Eastern coast.

Seeing corals surviving in such a cocktail of no-go zones is incredible, and bolds well for the future of our planet. Scientists are now keen to transfer these corals to the weakening areas of the Barrier Reef, as some believe it can help rescue one of Planet Earth’s most magnificent and important homes. Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the world’s surface, but support over 30% of all marine life and with the current rate of global warming, we are losing both the reefs and their life forms. This discovery can be a lifeline for our beautiful coral reefs and their adaptation gives us hope for the future!

Sir David Attenborough salutes plastic-free Glastonbury

Sir David Attenborough is not a man we will ever tire of writing about. His deep care for the world and thirst to teach people about the perils of human behaviour is warming, and his knowledge of the natural world is fascinating.

At 93 years of age he is still going strong, thankfully for all of us, and this year he did something quite incredible…

The man, the genius, the legend himself headlined at Glastonbury, making his way to the Pyramid Stage to deliver a warming message to thousands of festival-goers. He thanked the crowd for being aware, and he was proud that the popular festival was plastic-free. No single-use plastic was served at the event, which is amazing when you compare it to 2017, pre-ban. That year 40 tonnes of plastic bottles were recycled so this was a step in the right direction. More than 1 million plastic bottles were sold that year and 2019 looks like a new record for plastic reduction at the farm-based festival.  

David Attenborough told his crowd:

“There was one sequence in Blue Planet II which everyone seems to remember…It is one in which we showed what plastic has done to the creatures that live in the ocean.

”It had an extraordinary effect and now this great festival has gone plastic-free.”

Well done Glasto, we at the Malta National Aquarium thank you, and salute your efforts for a greener, cleaner world.

Of course, it wasn’t only Glasto that rocked, but our local Farsons Beer Festival was not only bags of fun, but green fun as only recycled cups were used throughout the festival.

These initiatives will really make a huge difference in Malta as it helps change the mindset especially given the sheer amount of people that get exposed to these greener methods.

Save the Bees

Also last month, our main man of the moment gave us a simple tip on how we can save humanity. It’s a small effort with a huge impact. Simply leaving a spoon full of water and sugar outside on your roof, or in your garden can help a bee.

And why is helping bees so important, you might ask: well, most of our fauna depend on them to pollinate the flowers. To put it simply: Bees are pollinators, and without them we would not be alive. They are basically responsible for feeding 90% of the world’s population. So think twice before slapping one with your flip flop too, please.

Sir David added that “if bees were to disappear from the face of the Earth, humans would have just four years to live.”

His main concern is that during the last five years, the bee population has been diminished by a third.

“This time of year bees can often look like they are dying or dead, however, they’re far from it. Bees can become tired and they simply don’t have enough energy to return to the hive which can often result in being swept away. If you find a tired bee in your home, a simple solution of sugar and water will help revive an exhausted bee. Simply mix two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar, with one tablespoon of water, and place on a spoon for the bee to reach.”

Right, you’ve heard the man, head to the kitchen now…and don’t forget to tell a friend.