Image of the day: Mediterranean climate zones

THIS image of the day from NASA’s Earth Observatory takes composite pictures of global cloud cover for the month of October 2009 to examine what cloud presence alone says about the land below.

According to NASA, the starkest examples are in areas where dry land is bordered by ocean. Sure enough, peeping out from beneath the clouds are the world’s five mediterranean climate zones, which in addition to California include part of the Chilean coast into western Argentina, southwestern Australia, the Mediterranean basin and southwestern South Africa.

Mediterranean climate zones have unique floras adapted to surviving on winter rains then hunkering down into dormancy during prolonged dry seasons. For Californians, who for the last century have grown wet-climate plants such as turf grass with imported water, a switch to native and mediterranean climate zone plants is seen as an essential step as global warming and population growth threaten the