STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
OF METEOROLOGY IN CYPRUS
The first known meteorological observations in Cyprus were carried out at Larnaka in the period October 1866 – June 1870 by the British Vice-Consul for Cyprus Mr. Thomas B. Sandwith. At that time the island was part of the Ottoman Empire. The meteorological instruments, thermometers, raingauge and barometer, were supplied by the Board of Trade through the Scotish Meteorological Society. The Society established various climatological stations in different parts of Europe with the view of collecting reliable information regarding the climates of places which might be recognized as sanitaria.
In 1878 Cyprus passed under British Administration. In 1881 Dr. F.W. Barry, the Sanitary Commissioner for the Government of Cyprus, installed meteorological stations in Nicosia, Famagusta, Larnaka, Pafos and Kyrenia, the instruments being supplied by the Meteorological Council. In 1882 another station was installed in Limassol.
New stations were installed in the following years and by 1902 there were in operation 7 climatological stations measuring at least temperature and precipitation and about 35 precipitation stations. The seventh climatological station was installed in 1902 at Akheritou, a village near Famagusta, where irrigation works were carried out. The station network continued to be expanded and in 1931 there were in operation 7 climatological stations and about 60 precipitation stations. In the next 30 years new meteorological stations were added to the network. In 1961 there were in operation about 28 climatological stations and about 90 precipitation stations. These meteorological stations were located at District Medical Offices, at the Offices of the Public Works Department, at Forest Stations, at Police Stations, at places where irrigation works were carried out and in private establishments. Stations at Elementary and Secondary Schools were installed in the years after 1960.
On the 11th of April 1963, the Meteorological Service of Cyprus became member of the World Meteorological Organisation (W.M.O.).
In 1974 before the Turkish invasion, the network operated 42 Climatological and 136 Precipitation Stations. However after the Turkish invasion only 31 Climatological and 101 Precipitation stations were operated under the area of Government control as it is indicated in the following table:-
Climatological and Rainfall Stations
Note.: 1976 was established a Synoptic Station at Larnaka Airport
1981 was established the Radiosonde Station at Athalassa
1983 was established the Synoptic Station at Pafos Airport.
The first notes on the climate of Cyprus based on the collected meteorological records were published in the Journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society in 1879, in the Quarterly Journal of the Meteorological Society in 1883 and in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1903. Information on weather conditions about Cyprus appeared also in Official Reports of the Colonial Authorities, particularly in cases of adverse weather conditions.
For many years and up to 1956 the Public Works Department had the responsibility of carrying out the meteorological observations in Cyprus. Although simple observations had been made and stored over these long periods, checking and use of these data by professional meteorologists had been extremely limited. Apart from the most essential applications by engineers from time to time, there seems to have been no analysis of the data up to that year.
In 1957 the responsibility for Meteorology was handed over from the Public Works Department to a Meteorological Office headed by a qualified Meteorologist responsible directly to the Secretary for Natural Resources. The Meteorologist started the work of organizing the Meteorological Office with the help of two assistants seconded from other Departments. Instructions were issued to part-time observers at the outstations, three Technical Notes were written and a start was made on providing climatological data in a form suitable for use by various authorities, especially agriculturists and hydrologists.
During the anomalous conditions in Cyprus in 1955–1960 and in 1963–1964 the progress towards an organized Meteorological Office was again retarded but its identity as a separate Office under the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources was maintained. For many years in the 1960’s the Office remained without a Head and qualified meteorological personnel.
The Government of the Republic, recognizing the role which meteorology should play in a rapidly advancing country with significant agricultural development and a permanent water deficiency, appointed a science graduate to the Meteorological Office in 1967 and arranged for the visit of an expert in 1968. The expert made a thorough evaluation of the requirements of the country in all aspects of meteorology.
In 1971 the first considerable advance was made towards implementation of the Government’s aim to develop its Meteorological Service using the expert’s advice and long-term plan as foundation. In 1972 the increase of funds allocated to the Meteorological Service permitted the purchase of equipment and improvement of other services. The post of the Meteorologist (Head of the Meteorological Service) was filled throughout 1971 and 1972 by an expert of the World Meteorological Organization. The expert left in January 1973 and the post of the Head of the Service was filled by promotion of a Meteorological Officer. Appointments of new personnel were made in 1973 and in the following years.
The development of the Meteorological Service continued in the decade of 1970 with the expansion of the station network, the standardization of the instruments, the training of the part-time observers at the outstations, the introduction of new methods in the quality control, the processing and the classification of the meteorological data, the use of electronic computer facilities for the processing of meteorological data, the preparation and publication of climatological statistics and reports and studies on the weather and climate and the provision of meteorological information and advice for the needs of the Cyprus community and economy in general.
The Meteorological Service established in 1976 a Meteorological Office at Larnaka Airport to provide meteorological services to civil aviation, after the closing down of Nicosia Airport and the cessation of services provided by the R.A.F. Met. Office. The operation of the Meteorological Office at Larnaka Airport was an enormous challenge to the young and small Meteorological Service.
The strengthening of the synoptic and aeronautical unit as regards both staff and equipment continued in the following years and by 1980 the unit reached its full development.
The development of Meteorology in Cyprus continued in 1981 with the establishment of a Radiosonde Station for upper-air meteorological observations. This was implemented with technical assistance provided by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office through the Voluntary Co-operation Programme of the World Meteorological Organization.
With the aim of providing improved services to agriculture and particularly to routine agricultural operations a new project was initiated in 1981 with the assistance of the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Development Programme.
In October 1983 a new Meteorological Office was established at Pafos Airport to provide services to civil aviation at this airport, while in 1986 a meteorological satellite receiving station was installed at the Meteorological Office at Larnaka Airport.
At the end of 1990 a computerization system was installed at Nicosia head office and in 1994 a Meteorological Radar was installed at Throni-Kykkos.
The development of the Meteorological Service continued with improvements on technology and telecommunication. In particular, after 1997 the following technological improvements were established:
a) Installation of a new Automatic Radiosonde Station at Athalassa.
b) Implementation of a telecommunication system between Larnaka- Athens.
c) Operation of a new Solar Radiation Center at Athalassa.
d) Expansion of the network with the introduction of Automatic Weather Stations.
e) Installation of UV Radiometers at Athalassa
Today, the network of Meteorological Service consists of 39 Climatological, 111 Precipitation, 1 Upper Air Observation Stations, 3 Synoptical Stations and 17 Automatic Weather Stations.
Finally, in recent years particular attention was given to the computerization of the climatological archives and the preparation of statistical tables for various meteorological elements and publications on the climate of Cyprus.
Despite its relatively short life the Meteorological Service gradually became a well organized Government Department with substantial contribution to the Cyprus community and economy in general.