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The Water Cycle (Fig A3)


The surface and underground water resources of Cyprus depend entirely on rainfall and it is only very recently that relatively small quantities of water are produced from the desalination of seawater. The climate of Cyprus is Mediterranean and is characterised by hot dry summers and rainy mild winters. The amount of rainfall on the island varies from year to year. In 1968-1969 the mean rainfall was 700 mm while in 1971-1972 it was only 182 mm. In general, the mean annual rainfall is about 500 mm. In the plain of Mesaoria it ranges from 200 mm to 300 mm and in the mountainous areas of Troodos from 600 mm to 1100 mm. It becomes obvious from the above that the Troodos range is of great importance as regards to rainfall. Without Troodos Cyprus would be a semi-desert with an annual rainfall of only 200-250 mm.


The volume of rainwater falling on Cyprus during a year with normal rainfall is about 4600 million m3. Of this water 3550 million m3 evaporates and returns to the atmosphere, while 600 million m3 flow as surface water. The rest, 450 million m3, infiltrate the earth through the pores and fractures of the rocks and recharge the groundwater. Of this water 30 million m3 reappear on the ground surface through springs.


Out of the 600 million m3 of surface water, 190 million m3 are stored in dams and reservoirs whose total capacity at present is 300 million m3. During winter and spring, when the rivers have surface flow, 150 million m3 of water are used for the irrigation of the fields nearby. Finally, a volume of 260 million m3 of surface water flows to the sea.


A volume of about 250 million m3 of water is pumped from the aquifers while a volume of 70 million m3 flows in the subsurface through the aquifers and is lost to the sea.


The values given above are referred to as the water balance of Cyprus (Fig A4) in a year with an average annual rainfall of 500 mm. The cycle of the movement of water from the atmosphere to the earth in the form of rain, snow or hail and back to the atmosphere through evaporation is referred to as the water cycle (Fig A3).



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