The Water Department of the Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC) of The Cyprus Institute organized a demonstration field day at their hydro-ecological observation site in Athalassa Park, on 28 February 2023. The field day was organized within the framework of the Water-JPI FLUXMED Project (P2P/WATER/0218/0011) and the PRIMA SWATCH project (P2P/PRIMA/0318/0022), on strategies for increasing water use efficiency of semi-arid Mediterranean watersheds and agrosilvopastoral systems under climate change. A total of eighteen researchers and officers from the Agricultural Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, Frederick University and The Cyprus Institute attended the event.
Associate Research Scientist Hakan Djuma explained how the eddy covariance system in the crop field measures carbon and water fluxes with an open-path, mid-infrared absorption gas analyser, in conjunction with a sonic anemometer and thermometer. The observed carbon fluxes showed less carbon uptake in the 2021/2022 crop year, relative to the 2020/2021 crop year, even though rainfall was higher in 2021/2022. The yield of the barley grain, measured by the Department of Agriculture, showed a similar and even more pronounced reduction. The differences between these two years were most likely due to the positive effect of the preceding legume crop and a better distribution of the rainfall over the crop season in the first year.
In a neighbouring forest site, tree transpiration is measured with sapflow sensors installed on the trunk of the trees. During the past two years, transpiration was much higher for cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) than for pine trees (Pinus brutia). The moisture in the soil, which is measured hourly with 90 sensors, showed that the top 60-cm of the soil is almost completely dry in summer. This causes the annual vegetation to dry out. The trees, who have larger root systems, maintain transpiration at a very low rate throughout the dry summer and keep the area green and pleasant.
Both research projects are financially supported by the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation. The PRIMA programme is supported by Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.