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date: 30 May 2024



  • Robert Sallares


The ancient climate was very similar to the modern climate. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers. There is a very high degree of interannual climatic variability, which makes farming (see agriculture) risky and sometimes causes *famines. The ordinary run of interannual climatic variability is taken for granted by literary sources. Only exceptional years stood a chance of being recorded. The rain, predominantly in winter, is usually adequate for dry-farming of cereals, and for evergreen trees resistant to the summer drought. However, it is not sufficient for dense coniferous or deciduous forests. Westerly winds bring most of the rain, so that areas in the rain shadow on the eastern side of Greece, e.g. *Attica, are much drier than regions in western Greece. Rainfall often takes the form of short, intense showers. It runs off the land and does not help plants. There are statistical correlations between cereal yields, total annual precipitation and the monthly distribution of rainfall during the year. The winters generally remain warm enough for plants like the olive-tree, with a low degree of frost tolerance, while the summers are hot enough to support subtropical vegetation. The Mediterranean climate and much of the flora associated with it is quite young in terms of geological time. For ancient views on the weather see *Aristotle's Meteorologica, and *Theophrastus, On Weather Signs.


  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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