Koppen Climate Classification

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Koppen Climate Classification System

Our planet Earth is not uniform and every region of the world has distinct features as per the geographical conditions and features. These distinct geographical conditions lead to the presence of different types of climate all over the world. Climate is the weather conditions that are prevailing in any particular region for a longer period. Majorly you can find two basic types of climate i.e Tropical or Temperate. In this article, we will be covering the climate classification given by one of the famous Climatologists i.e Koppen. In this, we will learn about the detailed classification of the climate, various features of these climate types, classification of climate through charts, tables and world maps. 


Koppen Classification of Climate - Introduction

Wladimir Köppen (1846 - 1940), born in Russia, was a great German Climatologist as well as an amateur botanist. He gave a detailed climate classification and his first-ever classification came in 1918 and continued to refine and modify it. The last modified version of his classification was published in 1936. This classification was done with the usage of different kinds of symbols which represent different meanings and climate. Majorly, the climate classification was done into five major groups along with one more type which was considered a special category.


The five major climate groups are represented by capital letters i.e A, B, C, D, and E. Among these major groups, only B belongs to the dry type of climate whereas others are humid climate groups. These major groups are further divided into subtypes on the basis of their features like temperature and precipitation or level of dryness or coldness, etc. 

Symbol 'a' means hot summer in which average temperature is above 22°C, 'c' refers to cool summer where the average temperature is below 22°C, 'f' means no dry season, 'w' represents a dry season in winters and 's' represents a dry season in summer, 'g' refers to Ganges' type of temperature of annual march when the hottest month comes before the Solstice as well as the summer rainfall, 'h' means where the annual average temperature is less than 18°C, 'm' means monsoon. Besides these, Capital 'S' and 'W' are used for the further classification of the dry season in which 'S' means semi-arid regions or steppe whereas 'W' represents arid or desert regions. For further division of polar climate, capital 'T' and 'F' symbols are used. In which 'T' means Tundra and 'F' means Icecap. Besides all these, Capital ‘H’ represents the highlands. 


Koppen Climate Classification Chart

Here in this chart, you will find out the major types and their subdivisions. 

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Koppen Climate Map

Here in this world map, you can see the distribution of different types of climate as per Koppen Climate Classification.

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The detailed classification of different kinds of climate is mentioned below in the table. 

Climate Classification

Code

Group

Description

Precipitation Type

Af

Tropical

Tropical Rainforest 

Rainforest

Am

Tropical

Tropical Monsoon

Monsoon

As

Tropical

Tropical Dry Savannah

Dry, Savannah

Aw

Tropical

Tropical Wet Savannah

Wet, Savannah

BSh

Arid

Hot Semi-Arid - Steppe

Steppe

BSk

Arid

Cold Semi-Arid - Steppe

Steppe

BWh

Arid

Hot desert

Desert

BWk

Arid

Cold desert

Desert

Cfa

Temperate

Humid SubTropical

No dry season

Cfb

Temperate

Temperate Oceanic

No dry season

Cfc

Temperate

SubPolar Oceanic

No dry season

Csa

Temperate

Hot Summer Mediterranean

Dry summer

Csb

Temperate

Warm Summer Mediterranean

Dry summer

Csc

Temperate

Cool Summer Mediterranean

Dry summer

Cwa

Temperate

Monsoon Humid SubTropical

Dry winter

Cwb

Temperate

SubTropical Highland or Temperate oceanic with dry winters

Dry winter

Cwc

Temperate

Cold subtropical highland or subpolar oceanic with dry winters.

Dry winter

Dfa

Cold - Continental

Hot summer humid

No dry season

Dfb

Cold - Continental

Warm Summer humid

No dry season

Dfc

Cold - Continental

Subarctic climate

No dry season

Dfd

Cold - Continental

Extremely cold subarctic

No dry season

Dsa

Cold - Continental

Hot dry summer type continental climate

Dry summer

Dsb

Cold - Continental

Warm dry summer continental type

Dry summer

Dsc

Cold - Continental

Dry summer subarctic type climate

Dry summer

Dwa

Cold - Continental

Dry winter

Dry winter

Dwb

Cold - Continental

Dry winter

Dry winter

Dwc

Cold - Continental

Dry winter

Dry winter

Dwd

Cold - Continental

Dry winter

Dry winter

EF

Polar

Icecap climate

IcecapIce cap

ET

Polar

Tundra type climate

Tundra


A. Tropical Moist Climates

  • Different kinds of sub climates can be found under this category such as Af, Am, Aw.

  • This type of climate can be found in 15° to 25° in the north and south of the equator. 

  • In this type of climate, the temperature always remains above 18°C.

  • The annual precipitation here is generally above 1500 mm.

  • Af represents the Tropical wet Climate. Here, in tropical regions usually, the tropical climate is there along with precipitation all year round. Monthly variations in temperature of around or less than 3°C can be seen. Here, extreme high humidity is found along with cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds which form every day which leads to high precipitation.

  • Am represents the Tropical monsoon climate. Here, annual precipitation is much similar to that of Af, but mostly occurs within 7 to 9 of the warmest months and the rest of the years usually less rainfall occurs here.

  • Aw represents Tropical wet and dry climate or we can say Savannah type of climate. Extended dry season can be seen in the winters whereas, in the wet season, precipitation occurs less than 1000 mm and usually in the summers.

B. Dry Climates

  • This type of climate is more dependent upon the nature of the precipitation rather than the temperature and here evaporation, as well as transpiration, exceeds the total precipitation.

  • This type of climate can be found in the range of 20° to 35° from the north and south of the equator.

  • It has further four subdivisions as BSh, BWh, BSk, and BWk. Basically, two major types here are BS and BW. Only ‘k’ and ‘h’ are suffixed attached to define the aridness or location.

  • BW is a dry arid climate and is considered the true desert climate which covers about 12% of the total land of the Earth.

  • BS represents the semi-arid type of climate which are grasslands regions and which covers almost 14% of the land of the Earth. These regions receive more rainfall than the BW type of climatic regions. 

C. Moist SubTropical Mid-latitude Climate

  • In simple words, we can say that these are warm temperate climate regions where warm & humid summer and mild winters can be seen.

  • This type of climate can be found in the ranges of 30° to 50° in the north and south of the Equator and mainly can be found at the eastern or western sides of the continents.

  • Convective thunderstorms can be seen in the summertime whereas mid-latitude cyclones can be seen in the winters.

  • It can also be sub-classified into various categories. 

  • Cfa is a humid subtropical climate where hot and humid summers can be found with thunderstorms whereas winters are mild and precipitation usually occurs because of the cyclones.

  • Cfb is an example of marine climate that is found on the western edges or coasts of the continents. Here, hot and dry summer can be found with largely humid conditions whereas winters are mild with heavy precipitation.

  • Cs is an example of a Mediterranean type of climate where precipitation usually occurs in winters because of mid-latitude cyclones.

D. Moist Continental Mid-latitude Climates

  • In this type of climate, summers are usually warm but also can be cool whereas winters are usually cold.

  • This type of climate can be found towards the poles or at the subtropical mid-latitude climates or C-climates.

  • The average temperature is only above 10°C during the warmest months whereas, in coldest months, it can be less than minus 3° C.

  • Here, winters are very cold along with strong winds as well as snowstorms that come from the Continental polar regions or the Arctic air masses.

  • It has also further subdivisions which include major three types i.e Dw which means dry winters, Ds which means dry summers and Df represents precipitation all around the year.

E. Polar Climate 

  • Here, in these types of climatic regions, the temperature is too low.

  • Even, in the warmest months of the year as well, the temperature is less than 10°C. 

  • It usually occurs in the coastal areas of the northern regions of Asia, North America, Europe, Greenland and Antarctica.

  • It is also further divided into various types such as ET and EF. ET refers to Polar Tundra where the soil in the form of permafrost can be seen and EF refers to Polar Ice Caps that are permanently frozen.

Merits

There are various merits of the Koppen climate classification system which Re mentioned below:

  • This Koppen climate structure and division is quantitative in nature.

  • It is very easy to understand along with also easy to measure as well.

  • It also coincides with the vegetation pattern found in any region.

  • It has importance to two major and important factors i.e. temperature and precipitation.

  • The classification is so vast that it generally covers all kinds of climate patterns found on the Earth.

Demerits

It is always said that every coin has two sides and if this classification has some merits, then it must be having some demerits, a few of which are mentioned below:

  • It is quite vast and includes many classifications that make it difficult to memorize.

  • This classification is mostly based on the average values. In this, average values of temperature and precipitation have been taken. As we know, that precipitation is much more an estimated aspect rather than a measuring aspect. The average values sometimes make it difficult to compare and yield the desired results.

  • This classification has ignored various features such as intensity of the precipitation, cloud coverage, number of rainy days, variations in the temperature or precipitation, etc.

  • In this system, Koppen has also ignored the importance of air masses in climate formation which plays a huge role in Climatology.

Conclusion

Thus, in the end, we can say that Koppen who was a German Climatologist has given the best classification of the climate found on the planet. Koppen classification is one of the major accepted classifications of the distinct climate regions found here which divides the whole planet into five major climatic zones along with one special group of highlands. These major types are classified into further various climatic divisions. This classification has its own merits and demerits. This article will help you while studying Climatology and will increase your subject knowledge. This will not only help you to understand the climate types but also the vegetation or wildlife found in those regions as well.


We have read about Koppen climate classification in detail in this article. Let's solve some FAQs:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. Write a Short Note on Climate Classification Given by Koppen.

Answer. Wladimir Köppen ( 1846 - 1940 ) was a person born in Russia who was a great German Climatologist as well as an amateur botanist. He was the person who gave a detailed climate classification. The first-ever classification came in 1918 and continued to modify it. The last modified version of his classification was published in 1936. This classification is being done with the usage of different kinds of symbols which represent different meanings and they represent different forms of climate. Majorly the climate classification is done into five major groups along with one more sixth special type which is sometimes added to the classification. The five major climate groups are represented by capital letters i.e A, B, C, D, and E whereas the sixth letter is H. Among these major groups, only B belongs to the dry type of climate whereas others are humid climate groups and sixth is for highlands. These major groups are further divided into subtypes on the basis of their features like temperature and precipitation or level of dryness or coldness, etc.

Question 2. What Is the Meaning of Different Symbols Used in the Koppen Classification?

Answer. The five major climate zones are represented by capital letters i.e A, B, C, D, and E along with the sixth category H. A represents Tropical Moist, B is for Dry climate, C refers to Moist SubTropical Mid-latitude Climate, D refers to Moist Continental Mid-latitude Climate and E represents Polar type of climate whereas H stands for Highlands. Besides these small letters are also used on the basis of their features like temperature and precipitation or level of dryness or coldness, etc. Symbol 'a' means hot summer in which average temperature is above 22°C, 'c' refers to cool summer where the average temperature is below 22°C, 'f' means no dry season, 'w' represents a dry season in winters and 's' represents a dry season in summer, 'g' refers to Ganges' type of temperature of annual march when the hottest month comes before the Solstice as well as the summer rainfall. 'h' means where the annual average temperature is less than 18°C, 'm' means monsoon. Besides these, Capital 'S' and 'W' are used for the further classification of the dry season in which 'S' means semi-arid regions or steppe whereas 'W' represents arid or desert regions. For further division of polar climate, capital 'T' and 'F' symbols are used. In which 'T' means Tundra and 'F' means Icecap. Besides all these, Capital H represents the highlands. 

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