Chaparral Climate   Mediterranean Climate (Cs)

In the winter the Chaparral climate, also known as the Mediterranean climate, is mild and moist, but not rainy. During the summer it is very hot and dry. The temperature is usually mild but it can get very hot or nearly freezing. The temperature range is between 30° and 100° F.

This biome only gets about 10-17 inches of rain all year, and most of it comes in the winter. Because of the long period of dryness in the summer, only plants with hard leaves can survive, such as scrub oaks, chamiso shrubs, pines, cork and olive trees. Many leaves are also hairy so they can collect the moisture out of the air and use it.

There are many fires in the chaparral because of the heat and dryness. Some plants have adapted even to the fires. Their seeds will lie dormant until there is a fire. Their seed casings will crack and the seed will sprout only then.

Chaparrals exist in a mid-latitude climate and lie in a belt of prevailing westerly winds. This is why chaparrals tend to be on the west sides of continents. It is classified under Köppen's climate classification system as Cs. The C stands for warm temperature climates, where the average temperature of the coldest months is 64° F. The s stands for a dry season in the summer of the hemisphere it is in.

Chaparrals can be found from 30° to 50° N and 30° to 40° S latitudes. The chaparral climate occurs in central and southern coast of California; the coast areas of the Mediterranean Sea; coastal western and southern Australia; the Chilean coast in South America, and the Cape Town region of South Africa.



"Chaparral", New Book of Knowledge 1998 ed.

"Climate Zones", Encarta CD-Rom Encyclopedia, (Microsoft Corporation) 1995 ed.

"Chaparral Climates", New Book of Knowledge, 2000 ed.



Mediterranean Chaparral  Mediterranean Climate (Cs)

The Mediterranean chaparral has a very interesting climate. It has four seasons. These are spring, summer, fall, and winter. The chaparral has significantly hot and dry summers. Fog off the ocean is the only source of moisture during the summer. It has cool and moist winters with tropical storms bringing lots of rain. Spring and fall are usually a mix between both summer and winter, with a moderate amount of rain and heat.

The vegetation is mostly made up of shrubs. These include evergreen shrubs and most deciduous forms of shrub. Some of the adaptations of the vegetation are that the yucca rosette shape defends the growth in the inside of the bulbs from ruin except from extremely hot fires. Another adaptation of the vegetation is that the pinecone resin, which coats the closed-cone pines melts and allows the cones to open and spread their seeds. Also, the small, leathery leaves of thyme, oregano, and rosemary keep the moisture in the leaves. Leaves and branches are usually hairy to trap moisture from fog and rain, and to insulate them from the high heat in the summer.

The fauna is very interesting. Some of the adaptations of the Mediterranean chaparral fauna are that they don't need a lot of water. They have learned to live in their biome by being nocturnal, and are usually small.

What I find interesting about my biome's climate is its natural forest fires. These are caused by two things. One is the shortage of rain in the chaparral during the summer. Another is that many types of shrubs and flora are aromatic, like sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. These hold highly flammable oils. Did you know that the chaparral burns out every 30-40 years?

There is very little precipitation in the Mediterranean chaparral. The average annual precipitation is 10-20 inches in the form of rain. The average rainfall for the entire winter is 6.8 inches. The average rainfall for spring is 2.2 inches. The average rainfall for summer is .2 inches. The average rainfall for fall is 4.2 inches.

The average annual temperature is 59 ° F. The highest temperatures can reach 91°F, and the lowest temperature 37°F. The average temperature for winter is 46°F, while the average temperature for summer is 71°F. Average temperature for spring is 56°F, and the average temperature for fall is 65°F. Summers are dry and hot while the winters are somewhat cool and moist.

The latitude range for the Mediterranean chaparral climate is between 30° and 40° North. Köppen's climate-classification letter code for the chaparral is Csa. Cs stands for a mild, humid climate with a dry season in the summer of the respective hemisphere. The a means the summers are hot with the warmest month over 72°F.

by Sarah Nelson, 2001

bibliography :

"Loomis Climate Profile", (11/20/00)

"Mediterranean Shrublands" (11/6/01)

"Biomes and Soils", (11/6/00)

"Mediterranean Chaparral" 11/7/00