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CALYPSO South Inauguration of HF Radars and Press Conference
12th August 2021 - Għar Lapsi Reverse Osmosis Plant
Organised by the Physical Oceanography Research Group, Dept. of Geosciences, Univ. of Malta


The CALYPSO South Project observing systems were inaugurated on Thursday 12 August 2021 at Għar Lapsi, close to the site of one of the radars, in the presence of the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning, Hon. Aaron Farrugia, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds, Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, the Rector of the University of Malta and officials from Transport Malta and the Civil Protection Department, who are project partners.

CALYPSO South builds on the achievements of the preceding CALYPSO and CALYPSO Follow on projects, which enabled the activation of the first phase of a permanent and operational High Frequency radar system in October 2013, made up of three radars (one in the harbour area of Pozzallo and another two in Malta, at Ta’ Barkat and Ta’ Sopu), and subsequently extended in 2015 with the installation of a fourth radar in the touristic port of Marina di Ragusa.

In the current CALYPSO South project, the HF radar system has been incremented by three units to a total of seven radars covering a marine area of 13,000 square kilometres around the Maltese Islands and the south-eastern Sicilian coast.

Another major target of this project consists in the setting up of a network of automated operational meteo and sea level stations at key harbours in Malta and Gozo, and similar systems on the side of Sicily. The PORTO stations network, as it is called, provides harbour masters with real time data that supports decision making for safer navigation inside and in the proximity of harbours, especially in the case of the entry and exit of large ships. In the Maltese Islands the PORTO network includes eight weather stations situated in key ports or strategic locations (Oil Tanking, M’Xlokk; Delimara Power Station; Kordin, Grand Harbour; University heat monitor station; Qammieħ; Mġarr and Ċirkewwa Harbours) around the coast of the Maltese Islands.

Prof. Aldo Drago, project leader of CALYPSO South
Prof. Aldo Drago, project leader of CALYPSO South
“In the era of digitisation, the elaboration of marine data becomes a cutting-edge aspect of economic excellence and competitiveness”, said Prof. Aldo Drago, the Project Leader of CALYPSO South, and a member of the UM academia within the Department of Geosciences. “Data covering all aspects of the marine ecosystem are needed to monitor the health of our sea, keeping the sustainability of our marine resources under control against over exploitation and irreversible impacts like climate change”, he continued.

Prof. Alfred Vella, Rector of University of Malta
Prof. Alfred Vella, Rector of University of Malta
University Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella, reiterated that this project is the perfect marriage between technology, developed thanks to researchers at the University, and practical application of the science which will benefit countries in our area of the Mediterranean Sea, an area that is particularly vulnerable to oil spills, considering that around 20% of the world’s oil tanker traffic passes through it.

“This network of radars started as a concept by Prof. Aldo Drago some twelve years ago, but is nowadays a reality, providing stakeholders with essential data, and it represents a prime example of how the University’s efforts and effects extend way beyond the campus”, he said.

The Hon. Dr. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds
The Hon. Dr. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds
Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that by means of this project, which was carried out with an investment of €2.5 million, it is evident that when there is collaboration and continuous work, better and more effective results can be achieved.

He outlined that this project will lead to extensive marine research which is beneficial for various sectors, such as the tourism sector. The parliamentary secretary also said that there is a continuous investment of European funds in favour of a better environment. Environmental projects are also being designed by the government – in fact, through the Recovery and Resilience Plan, Malta has set out that half of the funds allocated to Malta by the European Union are to go entirely towards environmental projects so that together the country can push forward solutions to further improve the environment.

The Hon. Dr. Aaron Farrugia, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning
The Hon. Dr. Aaron Farrugia, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning
Minister Aaron Farrugia praised this important project and the collaboration between the ministry, Transport Malta, the Civil Protection Department and the University of Malta, explaining that such scientific data is necessary in order to inform policy decisions on environmental matters. He said that the marine environment is particularly significant for our islands as the blue economy employs 27,000 persons and makes up 15% of the Maltese economy.

“As a small island at the centre of the Mediterranean, the marine environment defines us as a nation. It has influenced our history and shaped our traditions and economy. We owe it to current and future generations to take the best course of action when it comes to our marine environment. Such innovation is key in ensuring we maintain a healthy ecosystem in our seas, which is vital for our environment, economy and the wellbeing of families, as well as the quality of our food supply. Our efforts must also be intensified as we face the threat of climate change,” stated Minister Farrugia.