Koppen Climate Classification - Climatic Groups, UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : November 3rd, 2022

Koppen climate classification is the most commonly operated weather classification system. Koppen's scheme of classification of climate was invented in 1884 by Wladimir Peter Koeppen, who specified a close connection between the distribution of climate and vegetation. The Koppen climate classification types are based on annual and monthly averages of precipitation and temperature data.

The Koppen climate classification system has been improved and revised many times since it was first issued. Koeppen picked specific precipitation and temperature values, linked them to vegetation distribution, and used them to classify the climates. This article guides everything about the Koppen climate classification, its characteristics, and a list of climatic types according to the Koeppen scheme.

Table of Content

What is Koeppen’s Climate Classification?

Koppen climate classification system recognizes five primary climatic kinds; each type is symbolized by capital alphabets - A, B, C, D, E, and H. The small letters a, b, c, and d demonstrate the extent of the harshness of temperature.

The dryness seasons are denoted by the small alphabets: f, m, s, and w.

Koppen symbol

Koppen Climate classification

f

No dry season

m

Monsoon climate

s

Summer dry season

W

Winter dry season

List of Climatic Groups and their Characteristics

The five major climatic groups in accordance with the Koeppen’s climate classification are A (tropical), B (arid), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). Each group and subgroup is symbolized by an alphabetical letter according to the system of Koppen classification of climate.

Koppen Climate Classification Group

Characteristics of Koeppen’s climate classification

A- Tropical

The average coldest month temperature is 18° C or higher

B- Dry Climates

Potential evaporation surpasses precipitation

C- Warm Temperate

The average coldest month temperature (Mid-latitude) is higher than minus 3°C but below 18°C

D- Cold Snow forest

The average coldest month temperature is -3° C or less

E- Cold Climates

Average temperature for all months is less than 10° C

H- Highlands

Cold due to height

Climatic Types According to Koeppen's Climate Classification

The table explains Koppen climate classification in India, along with their climate type, specific Koppen symbol, and significant characteristics. Take a look at the table structured below to get the complete knowledge about the climate classification system.

Koppen Climate Classification Group

Koppen Symbol Code

Type

Characteristics

A-Tropical Humid Climate

Af

Am

Aw

Tropical Wet

Tropical Monsoon

Tropical wet and dry

No dry season

Monsoonal, Short dry season

Winter dry season

B-Dry Climate

BSh

BSk

BWh

BWk

Subtropical Steppe

Mid-latitude Steppe

Subtropical Desert

Mid-latitude Desert

Low-latitude semi-arid or dry

Mid-latitude semi-arid or dry

Low-latitude arid or dry

Mid-latitude arid or dry

C-Warm temperate Climates

Cfa

Cfb

Cs

Humid subtropical

Marine west coast

Mediterranean

No dry season

No dry season, warm and cool summer

Dry hot summer

D- Cold Snow-forest Climates

Df

Dw

Humid Continental Subarctic

No dry season, severe winter

Winter dry and very severe

E-Cold climates

EF

ET

Polar ice cap

Tundra

Perennial ice

No true summer

H-highland

H

Highland

Highland with snow cover

Humid Tropical Climate - 1st Koppen Climate Classification

Half of the earth’s surface is occupied by areas of Humid Tropical climate (over 40 percent of the sea surface and 20 percent of the land).

  • The hot deserts of Arabia and North Africa are excluded from this type due to their intense aridity.
  • It is specified by the mean annual isotherm of 20°C.
  • Predominant climatic types are mainly recognized on the grounds of their seasonal distribution of precipitation.
  • The temperature is somewhat uniform in this belt.

Koppen Climate Classification Types

Criteria

Tropical (A)

The lowest mean monthly temperature is greater than 18°C.

Tropical rainforest (Af)

Precipitation in the driest month is at least 6 cm or greater.

Tropical monsoon (Am)

Precipitation in the driest month is less than 6 cm but more than 4% of total annual precipitation.

Tropical wet and dry savannah (Aw)

Precipitation in the driest month is less than 10 cm and less than 4% of total annual precipitation.

The Dry Climates - 2nd Koppen Climate Classification

These have been subdivided into desert or arid type or the steppe or semi-arid type. The two sub-divisions of climate have many characteristics in common. In Koeppen’s climate classification, the formula utilizes three variables to show the border between humid and dry climates.

These variables are

  • Average annual precipitation
  • Average annual temperature; and
  • Seasonal distribution of precipitation.

Koppen Climate Classification Type

Criteria

Arid desert (BW)

Annual precipitation is less than 50% of the precipitation threshold.

Semi-arid steppe (BS)

Annual precipitation is more than 50% of the precipitation threshold.

Warm temperate Climates - 3rd Koppen Climate Classification

This climatic group is subdivided into China, West European, and Mediterranean climatic types. The hottest month recorded temperature over 10°C.

  • The coldest month's temperature was less than -18°C, but it rarely goes down -30°C.
  • Warm temperature climates are divided into three classification types, namely,
  • The Mediterranean Climate (Cs)
  • The Humid Subtropical Climate or the China Type (Cwa/Cfa)
  • The Marine West European Climate (Cwb/Cfb).

Koeppen’s Climate Classification Type

Criteria

Mild temperate dry summer (Cs)

Precipitation in the driest month of summer is less than 1/3 the amount in the wettest winter month.

Mild temperate dry winter (Cw)

Precipitation in the driest month of winter is less than 1/10 of the amount in the wettest summer month.

Mild temperate humid (Cf)

Does not fulfill Cs or Cw climate types.

Cold Snow Forest Climates - 4th Koppen Climate Classification

Mid-latitude humid climates bearing lower temperatures have been subdivided into the following types. It includes:

  • The Taiga Climate (Dwd/Dwe/Dfe)
  • The Cool East Coast Climate (Dwa)
  • The Continental Climate (Dfa).

Koppen Climate Classification Type

Criteria

The Taiga Climate (Dwd/Dwe/Dfe)

The summers have average temperature 15°C and are short. The winters are long and very chilled. The minimum temperature can go down to -50°C.

The Cool East Coast Climate (Dwa)

The summers are hot, humid, and long. The average winter temperature varies between 0°C and -40°C. Rainfall is uneven.

The Continental Climate (Dfa)

Summers are warm, and for less time, the temperature stays between 10°C and 21°C. The temperature during winter can go down below freezing point.

The Cold / Polar Climate - 5th Koppen Climate Classification

Polar climates are those in which the average temperature of the hottest month is less than 10°C. These are differentiated by the absence of a warm period and prolonged cold weather conditions. This climatic group has been sub-divided into two types:

  • Tundra Climate, where the warmest month has a temperature above freezing point but is lower than 10°C; and
  • Ice-caps climate, where the warmest month has a temperature less than 0°C.

Climate of Highlands - 6th Koppen Climate Classification

Solar radiation and altitude control rainfall and temperature in mountainous areas. The impact of elevated height is almost identical on tall mountains to that of high latitudes on the planet.

  • The elevated vegetation zonation may indicate it from the base of the peaks to their tops.
  • This climate is witnessed in the Tibetan Plateau, the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps, and the Rockies.
  • High solar radiation, large daily temperature ranges, relatively large amounts of precipitation, and low air pressure, at higher peaks are expected in Highland zones.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Koppen Climate Classification

The Koppen climate classification has numerous advantages and disadvantages, such as it focuses on the factors such as temperature and precipitation, but neglects temperature variation etc. Given below are the merits and demerits of the Koppen climate classification.

Advantages of Climate Classification by Koppen:

  • The Koppen climate classification system overlaps with the vegetation practice seen in any area.
  • The two major factors, temperature and precipitation, were considered essential in Koeppen's climate classification.
  • The Koeppen scheme of climate classification covers all kinds of climate patterns and conditions discovered on Earth as it is vast.

Disadvantages of Koeppen's Classification of Climate:

  • Under his system of Koppen climate classification, Koppen took no notice of the air masses and their prominence in the climate formation that contribute much to Climatology.
  • Various features, including cloud coverage, temperature variations, rain intensity, count of rainy days, etc., were neglected under the Koppen climate classification system.
  • The Koppen climate classification system is mainly based on the average values, and it sometimes becomes difficult to calculate comparisons and yield the expected results.

Koppen Climate Classification UPSC Notes

Candidates who wish to become IAS, IFS, or IPS officers must cover the whole UPSC Syllabus and review the NCERT notes on essential topics for the civil services exam. Koeppen's climate classification UPSC comes under the Geography section under the Fundamentals of Physical Geography. The notes will also be helpful for candidates preparing for other Government competitive exams.

Koppen Climate Classification UPSC PDF

Aspirants should be well-familiar with the Koppen Climate Classification topic for the UPSC Exam as it is a vital portion of the UPSC Geography Syllabus. Candidates must also check out the Geography Notes for UPSC for comprehensive practice before the upcoming Prelims and Mains exam.

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FAQs on Koppen Climate Classification

  • Koppen climate classification is the most typically used classification of weather. The classification scheme of climate was invented in 1884 by Wladimir Peter Koeppen, and he determined a close relationship between temperature and vegetation distribution. The Koppen classification takes into consideration numerous factors such as temperature and precipitation. However, it neglects the variation in the temperature, air masses, and rain intensity.

  • Koeppen picked specific precipitation and temperature values, linked them to vegetation distribution, and used them to classify the climates. The main climate types are:

    • A-Tropical Humid Climate
    • B-Dry Climate
    • C-Warm temperate Climates
    • D- Cold Snow-forest Climates
    • E-Cold climates
    • H-highland
  • The Koppen climate classification system divides the many climates in our nature into 5 significant classifications. The groups are A, B, C, D, and E, denoting tropical, dry, temperate, continental, and polar, respectively.

  • The six major climate regions are polar, temperate, arid, tropical, Mediterranean, and Tundra. The classification system identifies major climatic kinds; each type is symbolized by a capital letter- A, B, C, D, E, and H.

  • The full-form Aw climate indicates a Tropical savanna climate with dry-winter characteristics of average monthly precipitation. This type of climate is found in a large area of Central India. Each group and subgroup is symbolized by an alphabetical letter according to the system of Koppen classification of climate.

  • The advantage of Koeppen's classification is it overlaps with the vegetation practice seen in any area, and temperature and precipitation are the two major factors. The major disadvantage of the Koppen classification was it neglected the air masses' significance in the climate formation that contributes to Climatology.

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