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Keywords:

  • annual precipitation reconstruction;
  • drought record;
  • dendroclimatology;
  • Pinus brutia (Ten.);
  • Cyprus;
  • Troodos Massif;
  • North Atlantic Oscillation

ABSTRACT

Precipitation around Cyprus, a relatively small island, is generally consistent in year-to-year variation in all dimensions except amplitude, with the higher elevations in the west generally receiving more precipitation. An annual record of precipitation was found in tree-rings of the predominant pine species, Pinus brutia Ten., which grows from the lower foothills up to 1400 m in altitude across the island. Tree-ring chronologies from four sites in west-central Cyprus are used here to reconstruct the annual September to August precipitation and a drought record for AD 1830–2006, with the drought reconstruction extending back to 1756. A minimum of 40% of the variance in annual precipitation and drought occurrence is explained by the variance in the tree-ring widths in all cases. Our drought assessment indicates that, on average, annual droughts occur once every 5 years and sustained droughts, 2–6 years in length, have occurred in small clusters of time, from 1806–1824, 1915–1934 and 1986–2000, when the winter North Atlantic Oscillation was in a predominantly positive phase. These results suggest that a sustained drought period has a mean return time probability of one in 70–100 years. This study provides the first long-term annual precipitation reconstruction and drought assessment at low to mid-elevations for Cyprus and will aid in future plans for drought mitigation.