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Cyprus has an intense Mediterranean climate with the typical seasonal rhythm strongly marked with respect to temperature, precipitation and weather in general. Hot dry summers from mid-May to mid-September and rainy, rather changeable, winters from November to mid-March are separated by short autumn and spring seasons of rapid change in weather conditions. At latitude 35° North, Longitude 33° East, Cyprus has a change in day length from 9.8 hours in December to 14.5 hours in June.

The central Troodos massif, rising to 1951 metres a.m.s.l., and to a less extent the long narrow Kyrenia mountain range, with peaks of about 1000 metres a.m.s.l., play an important part in the meteorology of Cyprus. The predominantly clear skies and high sunshine give large seasonal and daily differences between temperatures of the sea and the interior of the island that also cause considerable local effects especially near the coastline.

During the summer, the island is mainly under the influence of a shallow trough of low pressure extending from the great continental depression centered over southwest Asia. It is a season of high temperatures with almost cloudless skies. Precipitation is almost negligible but sometimes isolated thunderstorms give precipitation amounting to less than 5% of the total in the average year.

During the winter Cyprus is near the track of fairly frequent small depressions that cross the Mediterranean Sea from west to east between the continental anticyclone of Eurasia and the generally low-pressure belt of North Africa. These depressions give periods of disturbed weather usually lasting from one to three days and produce most of the annual precipitation. The average precipitation from December to February is about 60% of the annual total.

The total yearly average precipitation is about 500 mm (period 1961-1990). A lowest value of 182 mm was observed in 1972/73 and a highest of 759 mm occurred in 1968/69. Statistical analysis of precipitation in Cyprus reveals a drop in the last 30 years. The mean annual precipitation increases up the southwestern windward slopes from 450 mm to nearly 1,100 mm at the top of the central massif of Troodos. On the leeward slopes, precipitation decreases steadily northwards and eastwards to between 300 and 350 mm in the central plain and the flat south eastern parts (the Kokkinochoria area) of the island (Rossel, 2001).


Topo-climatic Regions

Cyprus can be divided in four main topo-climatic regions:

  1. The high altitude areas (500 to 1950 m. amsl) of the Troodos mountain range that dominates the central part of the island, corresponding to 18% of the total area. The mean annual precipitation is 690 mm, varying from 400 to 700 mm at elevations of 500 m, to 1100 mm at the mountain peak. The mean annual evaporation varies from 1,400 to 1,700 mm at 500 m elevation to 1000 mm at the top. According to the Penmann-Monteith classification, the region, with an average aridity index of 0.54, can be classified as “dry sub-humid”.
  2. The slopes of the Troodos mountain range at altitudes of 200 to 500 m amsl (27% of the total island area), with a mean rainfall of 300 to 500 mm at the lower elevation and 400 to 700 mm at the higher elevations. The rainfall rate is higher at the western and southern slopes. Similarly, the annual evaporation varies from 1600 to 1900 mm at lower elevations to 1400 and 1700 mm at the higher ones. The region has an average aridity index of 0.3, and can be classified as “semi-arid”.
  3. The Mesaoria Plain dominating the central eastern part of the island (20% of the island) at elevations of 0 to 200 m amsl, with corresponding annual rainfall in the range of 290 to 350 mm, and an annual evaporation rate of 1650 to 1850 mm. The area can be classified as “arid”, with an aridity index of 0.18.
  4. The coastal areas at 0 to 200 m elevation amsl, including also the Pentadactylos mountain range along the northern part of the island (35% of the island). The mean annual rainfall varies between 350 and 400 mm in the south-eastern and southern areas and between 450 to 500 mm in the western and northern areas. The mean annual evaporation is in the range of 1700 to 2000 mm. These areas can be classified as “semi-arid”, with an aridity index of 0.23.

The overall average aridity index is 0.295, classifying the entire island as Semi-arid.