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The Mediterranean climate resembles the climate of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, which includes most of the area with this climate type worldwide. Beyond areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, this climatic type prevails in much of Californiamarker, in northwestern Mexicomarker, in parts of Westernmarker and South Australiamarker, in southwestern South Africa, and in parts of central Chilemarker and west-central Argentinamarker.

The climate is characterized by warm to hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. For example, the city of Perthmarker, Australia, in the southern hemispheremarker winter months of June-August, receives about 450 mm (17.7 inches) of rainfall and daily experiences an average daily minimum temperature of 8°C (46°F); during the summer months of December to February, by contrast, the city receives but 32 mm (1.3 inches) of rain. Australian Bureau of Meteorology, July 24, 2005 "Averages for PERTH METRO" Downloaded 06/12/06

Mediterranean climate zones with the five large subtropical high pressure cells of the oceans, the Azores High, South Atlantic High, North Pacific High, South Pacific High, and Indian Ocean High. These high pressure cells shift polarward in the summer and equatorward in the winter, playing a major role in the formation of the world's tropical deserts and the zones of Mediterranean climate polarward of the deserts. For example, the Azores High is associated with the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Basin's climate. The South Atlantic High is similarly associated with the Namib Desertmarker and the Mediterranean climate of the western part of South Africa. The North Pacific High is related to the Sonoran Desertmarker and California's climate, while the South Pacific High is related to the Atacama Desertmarker and central Chile's climate, and the Indian Ocean High is related to the deserts of western Australia (Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desertmarker, and Gibson Desertmarker) and the Mediterranean climate of southwest and south-central Australia.

The Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome is closely associated with Mediterranean climate zones. Particularly distinctive of the climate are sclerophyll shrublands, called maquis in the Mediterranean Basin, chaparral in California, matorral in Chile, fynbosmarker in South Africa, and mallee and kwongan shrublands in Australia. Aquatic communities in Mediterranean climate regions are adapted to a yearly cycle in which abiotic (environmental) controls of stream populations and community structure dominate during floods, biotic (e.g. competition and predation) controls become increasingly important as the discharge declines, and environmental controls regain dominance as environmental conditions become very harsh (i.e. hot and dry); as a result, these communities are well suited to recover from droughts, floods, and fires.


During summer, regions of Mediterranean climate (also known as Dry-Summer Subtropical) are dominated by subtropical high pressure cells, with dry sinking air capping a surface marine layer of varying humidity and making rainfall impossible or unlikely except for the occasional thunderstorm, while during winter the polar jet stream and associated periodic storms reach into the lower latitudes of the Mediterranean zones, bringing rain, with snow at higher elevations. As a result, areas with this climate receive almost all of their yearly rainfall during the winter season, and may go anywhere from 4 to 6 months during the summer without having any significant precipitation.

Toward the equatorial end, winter precipitation increases as a share of annual precipitation as the climate grades equatorward into the steppe climate usually characterized as BSHs normally too dry to support unirrigated agriculture. Toward the polar end, total moisture usually increases; in Europe there is more summer rain further north while along the American west coast the winters become more intensely wet and the dry seasons shorter as one moves north.


Mediterranean Climate Distribution in the Americas
All regions with Mediterranean climates have relatively mild winters, but summer temperatures are variable depending on the region. For instance, Athensmarker experiences rather high temperatures in the summer (48.0°C has been measured in nearby Eleusinamarker), whereas San Franciscomarker has cool, mild summers due to the upwelling of cold subsurface waters along the coast. Because all regions with a Mediterranean climate are near large bodies of water, temperatures are generally moderate with a comparatively small range of temperatures between the winter low and summer high (although the daily range of temperature during the summer is large due to dry and clear conditions, except along the immediate coasts). Temperatures during winter only occasionally reach freezing and snow occurs only rarely at sea level, but often in surrounding mountains because of wet conditions. In the summer, the temperatures range from mild to very warm, depending on distance from the open ocean, elevation, and latitude. Even in the warmest locations with a Mediterranean-type climate, however, temperatures usually do not reach the highest readings found in adjacent desert regions because of cooling from water bodies, although strong winds from inland desert regions can sometimes boost summer temperatures, quickly increasing the risk of forest fires.

Inland locations sheltered from or distant from sea breezes can experience severe heat during the summer. Locations in the northern half of the Sacramento Valley of Northern California, for example, are sometimes subject to summer temperatures characteristic of hot desert (often around 40°C/104°F) because of high temperature and very low humidity, although winters are very rainy and foggy enough to allow lusher vegetation than is typical in deserts; the vegetation becomes a fire risk in the dry summers. The central valley of Californiamarker is not always very hot because of an ocean influence known as the "delta breeze," which reduces temperatures during warm summer days. At times, it is strong enough to bring some coastal fog to the valley, which brings cooler weather and higher humidity. Unlike the coastal climates designated as Csb in the Köppen climate classification—characteristic of places with cooler summers—the hotter, typically inland areas are classified as Csa, which indicates a hot summer. Portomarker, Portugalmarker, experiences the typical Mediterranean pattern of cool, rainy winters and dry summers, but has relatively mild average summer temperatures. In the other side, in the northwestern Mediterranean Basin, the rainiest season is divided into a primary maximum during the autumn and a secondary in spring, making for a shorter dry season than in the classical mediterranean climate as in Barcelonamarker and with some cold days in winter, when the northern winds often bring cool or freezing air from central and northern Europe (usually accompanied by lower temperatures, high pressure and clear skies) but also with some snowstorms. This northern mediterranean coasts is close to the Cfa Köppen classified humid subtropical climates of the Danube, Pomarker, Garona and Rhone valleys.

Locations with either slightly higher latitude or elevation and which are cut off from milder ocean winds may have somewhat colder winters and more distinct seasons with occasional snow. This "temperate Mediterranean" climate is most noticeable in the Rogue and Umpqua Basins of southwestern Oregon, the central and northeastern Iberian Peninsula, southeastern France, away from the immediate coastline, northern Italy, and northern Greece. In these areas, some plants, (such as citrus) that are commonly associated with milder Mediterranean climates, will freeze in a severe winter and are thus not part of the regular landscape.

Areas of high altitude adjacent to locations with Mediterranean climates, such as the "mesetas" or plateaux of central Spain, may have the cold winters that are characteristic of a continental climate (see Continental Mediterranean climate); under Köppen's scheme such places might earn the designation Dsa (at lower latitudes above Csa), Dsb (either at high elevations in the lower latitudes or at lower elevations in the mid-latitudes above Csb) or even Dsc (just below the tree line). An example of a very humid Mediterranean snow climate, Dfsc, is the highest summit on Orjen, Zubacki kabaomarker in the subadriatic Dinaric Alps in Montenegromarker.

The temperature and rainfall pattern for a Csa or even a Csb climate can exist as a microclimate in some high-altitude locations adjacent to a rare tropical As (summer-drought tropical climate, typically in a rainshadow region.

Natural vegetation

The natural vegetation of Mediterranean lands must be adapted to survive long, hot summer droughts and prolonged wet periods in winter. Mediterranean vegetation includes the following: Most natural vegetation in Mediterranean areas has long since been cleared for agriculture. In places such as the Sacramento Valley in Californiamarker, irrigation has led to intensive farming. However, some native vegetation survives in rural areas.

The poo vegetation in the South-western Cape in South Africa is famed for its high floral diversity, and includes such plant types as members of the Restionaceae, ericas (heaths) and proteas (incidentally, representatives of the Proteaceae also grow in Australia, such as banksias.)


Notable Cities with Mediterranean Climates

Charts of Selected Cities

Northern hemisphere

Southern hemisphere


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