Koppen Climate Classification System – UPSC IAS

Koppen Climate Classification System is by far the most widely used modern climate classification system.

Differences between weather and climate

DefinitionDescribes the average conditions expected at a specific place at a given time (considerable time). A region’s climate is generated by the climate system, which has five components: atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, land surface, and biosphere.Describes the atmospheric conditions at a specific place at a specific point in time. Weather generally refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity
ComponentsClimate may include precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind velocity, phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms over a long period of time.Weather includes sunshine, rain, cloud cover, winds, hail, snow, sleet, freezing rain, flooding, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, steady rains from a cold front or warm front, excessive heat, heat waves and more
ForecastBy aggregates of weather statistics over periods of 30 yearsBy collecting meteorological data, like air temperature, pressure, humidity, solar radiation, wind speeds and direction etc.
Determining factorsAggregating weather statistics over periods of 30 years (“climate normals”).Real-time measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, precipitation, cloud cover, and other variables
AboutClimate is defined as statistical weather information that describes the variation of weather at a given place for a specified interval.Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, and its short-term (minutes to weeks) variation
Time periodMeasured over a long periodMeasured for short term

Koppen Climate Classification System

Wladimir Köppen (1846– 1940; pronounced like “kur-pin” with a silent r) was a Russian-born German climatologist who was also an amateur botanist.

The first version of his climate classification scheme appeared in 1918, and he continued to modify and refine it for the rest of his life, the last version being published in 1936.

The modified Köppen system describes five major climate groups (groups A, B, C, D, and E) which are subdivided into a total of 14 individual climate types, along with the special category of highland (H) climate.

Köppen Climate Classification System
  • Koeppen recognized five major climatic groups, four of them are based on temperature and one on precipitation.
  • The capital letters:
    • A, C, D, and E delineate humid climates and
    • B dry climates.
  • The climatic groups are subdivided into types, designated by small letters, based on seasonality of precipitation and temperature characteristics.
  • The seasons of dryness are indicated by the small letters: f, m, w, and s, where
    1. f – no dry season,
    2. m – monsoon climate,
    3. w – winter dry season and
    4. s – summer dry season.
  • The above mentioned major climatic types are further subdivided depending upon the seasonal distribution of rainfall or degree of dryness or cold.
    • a: hot summer, the average temperature of the warmest month over 22°C
    • c: cool summer, the average temperature of the warmest month under 22°C
    • f: no dry season
    • w: the dry season in winter
    • s: the dry season in summer
    • g: Gange’s type of annual march of temperature; hottest month comes before the solstice and the summer rainy season.
    • h: average annual temperature under 18°C
    • m (monsoon): short dry season.
  • The capital letters S and W are employed to designate the two subdivisions of dry climate:
    1. semi-arid or Steppe (S) and
    2. arid or desert (W).
  • Capital letters T and F are similarly used to designate the two subdivisions of polar climate
    1. tundra (T) and
    2. icecap (F).

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