What is a Mediterranean climate?

Michael Mace mikemace@att.net
Thu, 04 Feb 2010 11:59:48 PST
Thanks for the comments and questions, everybody.  I'll respond to them all

Jan wrote:

>> Next time please embedd the fonts into the PDF, my computer cannot show
the text amnd the map.

Thanks, and I'm sorry for the trouble.  I'll repost the maps with the fonts
embedded if I can't find another workaround.  The problem is that the
embedded fonts add about 150k to the size of the file, which will push some
of the maps beyond the size limit set in the wiki.

Ugh, computers.

Bracey wrote:

>> An excellent book, Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates by
R. Dallman, has extensive discussion of the differences between the five
major medit climates.

I agree, it's a splendid book, and has a much more thorough discussion of
the subject than I could do in a single map.

>> You might also look into the Mediterranean Garden Society.

Thanks!  I am on the Medit-Plants list and was thinking about expanding the
discussion to there.  Wanted to try it out first among the "family" here

There is also a somewhat pointed behind-the-scenes discussion on Wikipedia
about how to define a Mediterranean climate.  My summary: It's very
complicated, and the things that climatologists do to define a climate do
not necessarily relate to the information that gardeners need.  That's not
saying the climatologists are doing anything wrong, just that climatology
and gardening are not the same things.

Tim wrote:

>> Parts of Somalia also fall within the description of a mediterranean

Cool!  I will see if I can find the details, and add that to the map.

I'm also working on a map of Hawaii, which (as Lee has pointed out) has some
Mediterranean-like pockets on a couple of islands.

Are there any other places that people would like to nominate?

Diane wrote:

>> It was disappointing not to see any of my colour in South Africa, but
- could Esperance actually be in a dark brown area?

I was thinking of you when I worked on the Pacific coast map.  You have to
zoom in very closely, but right around Victoria there's a little purple
zone.  It's just one weather station, but in terms of rainfall and average
winter cold it is a rough match for a town in South Africa just north of
Ceres, called Prince Alfred's Hamlet.  You can see its weather here:


Data from the Victoria weather station, called "Gonzalez Heights," is given


Prince Alfred's Hamlet is a little bit drier and warmer in winter than the
Gonzalez Heights station in Victoria.  But they are pretty close.

>> could Esperance actually be in a dark brown area

Esperance, Australia is dark red, meaning it gets similar rainfall to the
dark brown zone but not as cold in winter.  

Here's the weather data on Esperance:


As you'll see, their rainfall total is similar to yours (about 60 cm/year),
but they're a tiny bit wetter in summer and drier in winter than you are.
But pretty close!

The big difference is minimum winter temperatures.  Their lowest monthly
average minimum is 8.3C; yours is 2.2C.  That's a pretty big difference.

The other difference, which I couldn't really show on a map, is that all
along the Pacific coast we occasionally get an "arctic express" weather
system in winter, where a storm flows down from Alaska and freezes the heck
out of everything.  Because there's ocean south of Australia and South
Africa, they don't get those sorts of events as often (if at all).

So those of us on the Pacific coast get tempted into growing tender plants
for a year or ten, and then get brutally disappointed when they all freeze
in a freak storm.

The bottom line: Plants from Esperance may be pretty comfortable with your
rainfall pattern (if you get the drainage right), but you'll need to protect
them from frost in winter.  Which I'm sure you already knew  ;-)

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