The Mediterranean climate is characterized by the Mediterranean Sea, which represents a relatively large mass of water, and its peculiar geographical location: at mid latitude, on the west side of a large continental area, surrounded by three continents with high mountains ridges, and with a restricted exchange with the Atlantic ocean.
In general the climate exhibits hot and dry summers, and mild and rainy winter seasons. However, within such a small spatial scale there are large climate contrasts as the area includes Alpin regions in the north, with permanent glaciers and relatively high precipitation rates, and subtropical semiarid regions in the south where the extended Atlas mountains ridge also play a major role. Moreover the Mediterranean is a transition zone between midlatitude climate regimes, located at the border of the midlatitude storm track, and the tropical climate, located under the descending branch of the Hadley cell.
These characteristics make the Mediterranean region potentially very sensitive to climate change. Indeed, simulations of future climate scenarios tend to agree that higher emission level could produce a temperature increase larger than the global average value, further reduce precipitation and increase the interannual variability of both temperature and precipitation (floodinds, droughts and heatwaves).
Progress in the understanding of the Mediterranean climate has important environmental, societal and economical implications. The Mediterranean region is characterized by large cultural, economical, political, demographic gradients in a situation already under environmental stress (heat waves, highly variable precipitation, limited water resources), where lack of readiness and adequate adaptation strategies could result in critical situations, in particular in connection with the occurrence of extremes and inadequate evaluation of climate change impacts.