Cyprus as an arid and semi-arid island of the Mediterranean region is already affected by climate changes and their adverse impacts in several sectors of its economy. During the last century it was observed that the climate of the island changed with precipitation reducing at a rate of 1mm per year, where the mean temperature increased by 0,5°C. The reduction in precipitation and the increase of the temperature had an adverse impact on the availability of the natural water resources, which were reduced by 40% from the estimates made in 1970. Extreme climatic phenomena especially droughts are more frequent than before, with droughts causing water shortage and scarcity, and adverse effects on the economy, the social life and the environment. The unsustainable depletion of groundwater caused by uncontrolled water pumping in many areas has led to sea intrusion into groundwater aquifers and to the deterioration of water quality that is pumped.
Climate change is expected to lead to further reduction of precipitation and temperature increase in the coming years which will result in higher evaporation and drier conditions. The unsustainable depletion of groundwater will likely be worsened by reduced surface water infiltration in the Mediterranean region. In addition, the increase in the intrusion of salt water to coastal aquifers from sea level rise will further reduce the availability of usable ground water. Agriculture and food security are expected to be threatened. Furthermore, the demand for water will increase with the increase in temperature and particularly crop water demand. With growing dependence on air conditioning, frequent heat waves during summer could result in increased demand for energy production and even cause loss of life if power supplies fail. Rural-to-urban migration is likely to increase under climate change conditions, as many rural livelihoods become less viable. Disease patterns are likely to change, making control more difficult. Climate change is expected to affect human health through increase in heat stroke mortality, tropical vector-borne diseases such as malaria, and urban air pollution.
In the coming years, Cyprus is not expected to become very vulnerable to sea flooding. Nevertheless the coastal zone of Cyprus is considered to be a valuable and vulnerable area. This zone, in which most urban development and economic activity takes place, covers 23% of the total country’s area, 50% of total population as three out of four of Cyprus main cities and 90% of the tourism industry are located by the coastline. Moreover, a great percentage of the island’s ‘natural beauties’ is also located near coastal areas. The most vulnerable part in this regard is the low-lying region of Larnaca located at the south coast of the island. Erosion constitutes a greater threat than flooding especially for the sandy and gravel beaches of the island. At the moment, 38% of the coastline is already subject to erosion, mostly the result of human activities such as beach mining, dam and illegal breakwater construction and urbanisation. With a sea level rise, the problem of erosion could be exacerbated in these areas, inducing safety threats for infrastructures such as Larnaca airport, desalination stations, and power plants, increasing dangers arising from potential storm surges, and increasing the economic demand for coastal defences. Low-lying areas will be significantly prone to sea level rise impacts and will be threatened with inundation risk and greater exposure to storms
Taking into consideration the current and expected adverse impacts of climate change in Cyprus, it is essential that, in addition to emission reduction (mitigation) measures, adaptation measures must be identified and applied in order for natural as well as human systems to develop adequate adaptive responses to avoid the risks posed by climate change. Moreover, adaptation will contribute towards the enhancement of social and economic activities viability, the reduction of their vulnerability and the elimination, at the degree possible, of extreme climatic phenomena. Therefore, it is important to plan for adaptive strategies at national level and work towards strengthening national capacities in order for Cyprus to be able and prepared to respond to the adverse impacts of climate change.