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Environment

  • New lizard parasite species discovered

    New lizard parasite species discovered

    A parasitic species new to science – the Sardinian Wall Lizard Chigger (Lacertacus sardiniensis) has been discovered by a group of Russian, Hungarian and Maltese researchers. The parasite lives on the endemic Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard. One of the...

  • Shallow-water pebble beds unexpectedly teem with life

    Shallow-water pebble beds unexpectedly teem with life

    Research undertaken by Julian Evans as part of his doctoral studies challenges the view that the biological diversity of pebble beds is impoverished. Interest in this habitat was sparked by the rediscovery in pebble beds of the Maltese Topshell, a...

  • Don’t rule out wind completely

    Don’t rule out wind completely

    The grapevine has it that government has completely discounted wind power, especially of the offshore type, and is instead favouring solar power. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority is drafting a policy on solar farms which is expected to...

  • ‘Too heavy to hop’

    ‘Too heavy to hop’

    A giant extinct kangaroo that lived in the Australian outback 100,000 years ago would have walked rather than hopped, research has shown. Scientists said the 2.7-metre-tall creature, which had a round rabbit-like face, would have been an unnerving...

  • Fall in migratory bird populations

    Migratory birds which travel thousands of miles to Africa each winter have seen populations tumble in the last few decades, conservationists have warned. The latest annual assessment of UK birds has revealed that species which nest in the UK in...

  • Digging their way out of soil

    Digging their way out of soil

    Autumn marks the appearance of large numbers of fairly large, brown beetles with a noticeable horn like that of a rhinoceros on their head. Beetles appear after sunset and disappear before dawn. In some areas these insects concentrate in such...

  • Eagle reveals secret against turbulence

    Eagle reveals secret against turbulence

    An eagle fitted with its own ‘black box’ flight recorder has revealed the soaring bird’s secret weapon against turbulence. By rapidly collapsing its wings when encountering strong gusts of wind, the captive steppe eagle named Cossack was able to...

  • Flies ‘could help detect explosives’

    A fly’s sense of smell could be used in new technology to detect drugs and bombs, according to research. Brain scientist Professor Thomas Nowotny, who works at the University of Sussex, was surprised to find that the “nose” of a fruit fly can...

  • Floods force action on climate

    Floods force action on climate

    Extreme weather conditions such as floods and heatwaves are pushing countries across Europe into taking action to adapt to a changing climate, a study has found. The report questioned 30 European countries, including Malta, about action to cope...

  • US military lays out plan for coping with climate change

    The US Department of Defence has laid out its plan to respond to climate change, arguing that rising temperatures and more frequent destructive weather around the globe pose “immediate risks to US national security”. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel...

  • Caving in to development

    Caving in to development

    Development pressures sit jealously, side by side with nature, eating into the very fabric of the Maltese islands. Where else but in Malta could you find, metres from the beach, a historic cave filled with water – enough to kayak in – all at the...

  • Exploring our scenic paths

    Exploring our scenic paths

    The Ramblers’ Association has launched its Autumn Walk Programme (October to December) with over 25 walks to be held mainly on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The walks are led by experienced and knowledgeable walk leaders. The treks include...

  • Tiger moths

    Tiger moths

    The Mediterranean tiger moth is a beautiful moth. In Malta it is active from September to late October – although in other countries it can be active as early as in August. It has a tessellated pattern made up of black shapes on a light pink...

  • Rising seas are causing tidal floods in US cities

    Rising seas are causing tidal floods in US cities

    As sea levels rise, tidal flooding along the US coast is likely to become so common that parts of many communities, including the nation’s capital, could become unusable within three decades, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned...

  • Scientists speed up analysis of human link to wild weather

    Scientists speed up analysis of human link to wild weather

    Climate scientists hope to be able to tell the world almost in real-time whether global warming has a hand in extreme weather thanks to an initiative they plan to launch by the end of 2015. In recent years, scientists have become more adept at...

  • Not seeing the wood for the trees

    Not seeing the wood for the trees

    The environmental movement, both locally and in the rest of Europe, has, in a rare show of unison, collectively given the thumbs down to Karmenu Vella’s nomination as EU Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, and to his...

  • A celestial flower – the Tulip nebula

    A celestial flower – the Tulip nebula

    A huge gaseous nebula looms along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, in the Orion spiral arm of our galaxy and towards the constellation Cygnus – the celestial swan. This glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is known as the Tulip nebula. It...

  • Quake Watch

    Quake Watch

    September was characterised by average seismicity in the Mediterranean region and across the globe. Of particular interest is the Icelandic volcano that has been erupting throughout the month. The volcanic activity also generated hundreds of...

  • The painted lady

    The painted lady

    The painted lady is a common butterfly, which is found on all continents except South America and Antarctica. It is a notable migrant and it’s not the first time tens or hundreds of thousands appear suddenly in the Maltese countryside, only to...

  • Warmer oceans ‘bleaching corals’

    Warmer oceans ‘bleaching corals’

    Scientists say warm ocean temperatures are causing large expanses of coral to bleach in the pristine reefs northwest of Hawaii’s main islands. Courtney Couch, a researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said she observed mass bleaching...

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