California Chaparral Climate 
Mediterranean Climate (Cs)

The word Chaparral comes from the Spanish word, "chaparro" meaning scrub oak. It is found in the coastal areas in California. Chaparral climate/ Mediterranean climate, or scrub climate, is a hot, dry, and mild climate in summer with rainy and cool winters. The summers are so hot that there are frequent fires and dry spells. Consequently, these regions are dominated by fire-adapted shrubs, the most important being manzanita and chamise. Tall shrubs with leathery leaves or needles such as red shank, sage, mountain mahogany, Christmasberry, California scrub oak, and many different kinds of ceanothus are common in these areas. Coniferous forests, and chaparral often alternate near the shore and on mountains. Chaparral occurs on slopes facing south, and in drier areas.

The animals that live in this environment have also adapted to the frequent fires and long dry spells, because they learned how to find water, and conserve it. These include invertebrates, birds, reptiles,and mammals such as Bewick's wren, California quail California striped racer snake, northern red diamond rattle snake, orange-throated whiptail lizard, pocket mouse, deer mouse, kangaroo rats, chipmunk, rabbit, fox, deer, coyote, lynx, and mountain lion.

Chaparral is found also in the mountains, and the average mountain temperature in Southern California is from 32-60 °F , getting colder the higher up you go. Along the coast, temperatures average 53-65 °F. Freezing weather may sometimes occur in the winter, but only for a little while.

Most of the 12-40 inches per year of precipitation is in the form of rain: fall, winter, and spring receiving equal amounts. Any snow that may fall in the winter melts very quickly. The precipitation also increases in elevation. During the summer, places along the coastline usually get more moderate weather and more moisture from fog than interior regions.

Geographers, and climatologists identify different biomes by their Köppen symbol. The biomes are identified by both big and small lettering. The larger letters, stand for the group that the biome belongs to. The Köppen symbol for Chaparral/hot grasslands is Csa. Cs stands for a mild humid climate with a dry summer. Precipitation in the driest month is less than 1 inch. The wettest month of winter gets 3-4 inches of rain. 70% of the average annual precipitation falls in the six months of winter. a stands for hot summers with the hottest month over 72°F

The California Chaparral climate is found at latitude 35-40° North, and longitude is 118-123° West.

by Marina S. 2002



"Chaparral Animal Printouts" (13 November 2001)

"M262 California Coastal Range Open Woodland--Shrub--coniferous Forest&emdash;Meadow Province." (November 2001).

"Koppen Climate Map", (13 November 2001)

"Biomes and Soils.", (November2001).

"Koppen Climate Classifacation" (January 2002)

Strahler,Authur N. and Strahler, Alan H. Elements of Phisical Geology. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 1984.


World Biomes