Action 3

ACTION 3: Prediction of future changes and responses due to climate change in Cyprus

Duration: 01/04/2012 – 31/12/2012
Status – Completed

Action 3 consists of three (3) individual activities:

  • Activity 3(a): Literature review and evaluation on the state-of-the-science computer-based climate simulation models. Completed
  • Activity 3(b): Projection of climate change in Cyprus with the use of selected regional climate models. Completed
  • Activity 3(c): Future Impacts and Vulnerability Assessment due to climate change in Cyprus. Completed

During Activity 3(a), an evaluation of climate regional models in terms of their suitability for use in climate change projection studies was performed (Deliverable 3.1). The evaluation focused mainly on previous research work carried out for Cyprus using regional models from the ENSEMBLES project (KNMI, METNO, METO, CNRM, C4I, MPI) as well as the PRECIS RCM run with Cyprus in the centre of its domain.

Daily time-series of temperature and precipitation were computed for three representative locations on the island of Cyprus, based on six RCMs from the ENSEMBLES project database (www.ensembles-eu.org) driven by the A1B scenario of the IPCC. The model data were evaluated by comparing with observations for the climate mean state and the weather extremes during the recent reference period 1976–2000. For simulated temperatures, the annual average biases from the model ensemble do not exceed 1.5oC and are within the observed inter-annual variability. The multi-model mean does well in capturing the observed annual cycle in precipitation, although the individual RCMs sometimes fail to reproduce the wet extremes.

The PRECIS RCM run with Cyprus in the centre of its domain satisfactorily reproduced annual cycles, raw data and climate indices for temperature in medium elevation continental sites. In higher altitudes, there were overestimations in temperature, probably due to the lower topography of the model. In coastal areas, the model showed poor skill in reproducing the inter-annual variability of min/max temperature, which might be attributed to the strong sea-influence in the model grids. Regarding precipitation, the model shows an overall underestimation in annual and seasonal rainfall, as well as in extreme precipitation events.

During Activity 3(b) which refers to the projection of climate change in Cyprus with the use of selected regional climate models, three deliverables were elaborated as planned (Deliverables 3.2, 3.3 and 3.5).

Deliverable 3.2 on the potential climate changes in Cyprus, first presents the reference values of several climatic parameters in Cyprus during the period 1960-1990 while afterwards a comparison is being made to the projected climatic situation in the future period 2021-2050. The future period 2021-2050 has been chosen specifically for the needs of stakeholders and policy makers to assist their planning in the near future, instead of the end of the twenty-first century as frequently used in other climate impact studies.

In particular, in the reference period it is concluded that the average maximum temperature range is 10-16°C in winter and 25-35°C in summer. The annual maximum temperature in coastal regions is about 33°C, while further inland often exceeds 40°C. The annual total precipitation ranges from 190-300mm in the central part of Cyprus (from the north and the south) to 450-630mm in the western part of the country. In the period 2021-2050, a continual, gradual and relatively strong warming of about 1.0 to 2.0°C is projected compared to the 1961-1990 reference period. In summer the increase of maximum temperature will exceed 2.5°C. Maximum and minimum seasonal temperatures appear to increase most in the continental part of Cyprus, i.e. the lowland areas around Nicosia and the western higher elevation part. Hot summer conditions that rarely occurred in the reference period may become the norm by the middle of the 21st century. Cyprus projected precipitation changes are quite variable among models. Winter drying will be modest in PRECIS with precipitation decreasing by 5-15mm but larger in the ENSEMBLEs model mean with precipitation decreases reaching 50mm in higher elevation areas. Throughout the year, Cyprus will not be affected by large changes according to PRECIS but according to the ENSEMBLES model mean reductions in precipitation may reach 60mm in southern coastal areas and 80 mm at higher elevation sires. Therefore, Cyprus precipitation patterns must be interpreted with caution, owing to the large temporal variability of rainfall and the inherent limitations of climate models to simulate accurately the hydrological cycle and the large variations of future projected changes among models. In addition, models show that the relative humidity will decrease in the near future, except from the coastal areas of Cyprus where increases of relative humidity are expected (with an associated increase of heat stress). Regarding wind parameters, slight decreases are expected while a general increase of mean annual and seasonal sunshine duration is evident.

Deliverable 3.3 contains a full technical description of the climate models chosen for the future climate change projection in Cyprus. In specific, for the assessment of climate change occurring in Cyprus in the near future (2021-2050), the main regional climate model used for the climatic simulations was the PRECIS regional model since the domain of this model is the greater Eastern Mediterranean region with Cyprus lying in the centre of the domain. Besides PRECIS, six RCMs of the ENSEMBLES project have also been used namely KNMI, METNO, CNRM, METO, C4I and MPI. The results of six models were used as an ensemble mean for testing and comparing the respective results of PRECIS. All simulations concerning future predictions of climate change in Cyprus are driven by the A1B emission scenario of the IPCC which provides a good mid-line scenario for carbon dioxide emissions and economic growth.

Regarding Deliverable 3.5 on the output of the chosen models for every different scenario used, scenarios A2 and B2, apart from A1B were selected for the estimation of climate changes in Cyprus during the period 2071-2100 with the use of the PRECIS climate model. B2 scenario assumes relatively low greenhouse gas emissions and A2 assumes relatively high emissions in the period 2071–2100. The period 2071-2100 was selected in this case, as IPCC scenarios start to diverge after 2050 (there are no significant deviations in greenhouse gas emissions for the different scenarios before 2050). On the contrary, there are significant differences in greenhouse gas emissions in the close to the end of the century, i.e. 2071-2100. In the report it is shown that A1B lies in the middle of A2 and B2 projections with A2 enhancing climatic changes by 30% and B2 reducing changes by about 40%.

During Activity 3(c), one deliverable has been elaborated on the future climate change Impacts and Vulnerability Assessment (IVA) in Cyprus (Deliverable 3.4). Deliverable 3.4 actually consists of two reports foreseen in the project proposal, (i) the report on the potential future impacts of climate change in Cyprus and (ii) the report on the future vulnerability assessment for the case of Cyprus.

In this activity, the project scientific team made use of the climate change projections in Cyprus produced under Activity 3(b) and elaborated a future IVA for all of the 11 selected policy areas (Figure 2), based on the methodology followed in the first IVA carried out in Action 1 (Deliverable 1.2). In specific, the vulnerabilities identified in Activity 1(a) through the current IVA were re-assessed in view of the projected future climate changes as well as of other relative socio-economic projections for the period 2021-2050. Thus, by taking into consideration (i) the current vulnerability assessment, (ii) the magnitude of the projected future changes in the climatic parameters considered to affect each impact and (iii) other socio-economic projections relative to the impact, the future vulnerability to climate changes in Cyprus was assessed. As in Deliverable 1.2, one sub-report has been elaborated for each of the selected policy areas (11 sub-reports in total).

Regional climate models (PRECIS, KNMI and others) were used in this activity also for the assessment of future vulnerability. In specific, the RCMs were used in order to calculate and plot certain vulnerability indicators which are associated with various climatic parameters. Such indicators calculated are the Fire Weather Index, the Tourism Climate Index, the Beach Climate Index, the Human Comfort Index (or else Humidex), the Heating and Cooling Degree Days and the overall energy consumption.

It must be mentioned that although the methodology followed was the same with the one adopted in Deliverable 1.2, further data which became recently available were added and evaluated, thus allowing the better assessment of the vulnerability. In addition, some of the impacts identified in Deliverable 1.2 have been further specified and categorized into other sub-impacts in order to better reflect the risks anticipated by climate changes.

The final report produced under this activity contains, apart from the newly added data and information, information contained in Deliverable 1.2 on the current IVA in order for the reader to be able to have a full view of the subject under examination.

Overall 56 future climate change impacts have been identified and assessed, from which 15 have been evaluated as key vulnerability priorities for future adaptation action. As key vulnerabilities have been identified those impacts gathering an overall vulnerability score ranging from “moderate” to “very high”.