Subtropical climates are often characterized by warm to hot summers and cool to mild winters with infrequent frost. Most subtropical climates fall into two basic types - humid subtropical, where rainfall is often concentrated in the warmest months (for example Brisbane, Queensland or Jacksonville, Florida) and dry summer (or Mediterranean), where seasonal rainfall is concentrated in the cooler months (for example Naples, Italy or Los Angeles, California).
Subtropical climates can occur at high elevations within the tropics, such as in the southern end of the Mexican Plateau and in Vietnam and Taiwan. Six climate classifications use the term to help define the various temperature and precipitation regimes for the planet Earth.
A great portion of the world's deserts are located within the subtropics, due to the development of the subtropical ridge. Within savanna regimes in the subtropics, a wet season is seen annually during the summer, which is when most of the yearly rainfall falls. Within Mediterranean climate regimes, the wet season occurs during the winter. Areas bordering warm oceans are prone to locally heavy rainfall from tropical cyclones, which can contribute a significant percentage of the annual rainfall. Plants such as palms, citrus, mango, pistachio, lychee, and avocado are grown within the subtropics.
The tropics have been historically defined as lying between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, located at 23.45° north and south latitude respectively. The poleward fringe of the subtropics is located at approximately 40° north and south latitude respectively.
Several methods have been used to define the subtropical climate. In the Trewartha climate classification, a subtropical region should have at least eight months with a mean temperature greater than 10 °C (50.0 °F) and at least one month with a mean temperature under 18 °C (64.4 °F). German climatologists Carl Troll and Karlheinz Paffen defined Warm temperate zones as plain and hilly lands having an average temperature of the coldest month between 2 °C (35.6 °F) and 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the Northern Hemisphere and between 6 °C (42.8 °F) and 13 °C (55.4 °F) in the Southern Hemisphere, excluding oceanic and continental climates. According to the Troll-Paffen climate classification, there generally exists one large subtropical zone named the warm-temperate subtropical zone, which is subdivided into seven smaller areas.