November 21st, 2017

Climate change in Cyprus

Climate change affects you as an individual, as a member of your local community, as a citizen of your country and as a member of the global community. You can detect its ominous effects at every corner of the planet, from the biggest country to the smallest island. It was only a matter of time until its impact could be traced to Cyprus as well.The climate of Cyprus contributes to the formation of the characteristic features of the island, such as flora, fauna and the lifestyle of the residents. The annual temperature range in Cyprus is quite large, with average is around 180 C in mainland areas and around 140 C on the coast. The average annual rainfall is about 480mm (19in). Snowfall often occurs each winter in areas with an altitude of over 1000m (3280ft).

During the 20th century the climate of Cyprus, especially in terms of precipitation and temperature, has experienced significant fluctuations and trends. The average rainfall shows a downward trend with an average rate of 1mm/year. The rainfall for the last thirty years is 17% lower than the rainfall from 1901 to 1930.

On the other hand temperature has followed a reverse trend during the 20th century, with an average growth rate of 0.01° C per year. Based on data from the National Meteorological Service, although temperatures have their ups and downs, they are climbing at a steady pace. According to scientists, average temperatures will rise by up to 4° C by 2100 in the Mediterranean.

Another consequence of climate change is drought. Unlike the past, the rainfall period nowadays is limited to four months, resulting in water shortage problems. According to the forecasts of scientists, we should expect an additional reduction of 10 to 40% of rainfall, presenting the first signs of the onset of desertification in the region. Although Cyprus ranks first in Europe in terms of number and capacity of dams in proportion to its size, they are almost empty most of the time. The reduction in the quantity and quality of water will also cause health problems to the population.

The benefits of forests regarding climate change are well known: they produce oxygen and bind carbon dioxide, mitigate extreme temperatures and retain rainwater in the soil. However, rising temperatures combined with drought increases the onset of natural fires, especially during the summer months. This fact has resulted in a continuous reduction of forested areas, which today cover only 18.96% of the island.

The reduction in rainfall and increased drought have negative consequences for trade as well. It is estimated that by the end of the century, agricultural production will decrease by 40%, causing enormous losses for the Cypriot economy.

Human activity has played a great role in causing the current rise in global temperature. It is high time to develop an awareness of the present and future impact on local communities. What would be the political response to such impacts? Politicians must consider basic economic concepts and environmental projects that describe a framework in which changes to our use of resources can occur. Environment is a common good and we owe it to ourselves and to future generations, not only to maintain, but also to improve it in the best possible way.