Effective climate classification

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In contrast to genetic classifications, the effective climate classification deals less with the formation of climates than with their appearance. The different forms of vegetation are an important starting point , as the same plants only grow under the same climatic conditions. The resulting climate zone maps are very similar to the maps of the vegetation zones ; however, their fundamentals are based more on measured values ​​than on observational data.

In order to be able to delimit the zones more precisely and to represent the climate in as much detail as possible, other criteria such as temperature and precipitation are often included in the analysis.

Climate classification according to Köppen and Geiger

These climate classifications were developed by Wladimir Peter Köppen until 1918 and continued by Rudolf Geiger from the 1930s. It is common in climatic geography worldwide.


Climate map of the earth according to the Köppen-Geiger classification, legend:
  • Af
  • At the
  • Aw / As
  • BWh
  • BWk
  • BSh
  • BSk
  • Csa
  • Csb
  • Csc
  • Cwa
  • Cwb
  • Cwc
  • Cfa
  • Cfb
  • Cfc
  • Dsa
  • Dsb
  • Dsc
  • Dsd
  • Dwa
  • Dwb
  • Dwc
  • Dwd
  • Dfa
  • Dfb
  • Dfc
  • Dfd
  • ET
  • EF
  • climate zone A. B. C. D. E.
    Climate type f, m, w, s W, S f, w, s T, F
    Climate subtype h, k a, b, c, d

    According to this system, the European Atlantic climate is of the type Cfb ( beech climate ), in the north, however, Dfc ( boreal coniferous forest climate ), the continentally influenced areas as well as the Baltic Sea region Dfb, the Mediterranean climate Csa or Csb.

    Main groups

    A climate

    tropical rainy climate . The coldest month of the year is warmer than 18 ° C.


    Dry climate . A distinction is made between desert and steppe climates
    • BW (desert climate): The numerical value of the annual precipitation (in cm) is (with predominantly winter rain) smaller than that of the annual mean temperature (in ° C). For example, if the annual mean temperature is 20 ° C, the station has a desert climate during winter rain when the fall is less than 20 cm (200 mm) per year. In the case of evenly distributed rain, 7 must be added to the temperature; in the case of prevailing summer rain, 14 is added. There are three isotherms to differentiate between hot and cold desert climates. One is that the annual mean temperature is below or above 18 ° C, with the other two the difference depends on the coldest month, either 0 ° C or -3 ° C.
    • Examples:
    • BS (steppe climate): The calculation is similar, only the temperature (and the number added depending on the distribution of precipitation) is doubled. A station with an annual mean temperature of 20 ° C would have a steppe climate in winter rain of less than 40 cm (400 mm).
    • Examples:


    Warm- temperate rainy climates (generally, “warm-temperate climates” are exclusively identical to the subtropics . According to this definition, however, C-climates are also partly in the humid areas of the cool-temperate zone ) . The coldest month has a mean temperature between 18 ° C and −3 ° C, the warmest month has a temperature above 10 ° C. The annual total precipitation is higher than the dry line calculated for the steppe climate BS.
    • Cwa / Cfa (subtropical "east side" climate): The summers are hot and humid, the warmest month averages over 22 ° C. With a Cwa climate, the wettest summer month has at least ten times as much rainfall as the driest winter month
    • Examples:
    • Cs (Mediterranean climate): The wettest month in winter is three times as rainy as the driest month in summer. If the mean temperature of the warmest month is more than 22 ° C, one speaks of a Csa climate; if this is not the case and the mean is still above 10 ° C for at least four months, on the other hand from a Csb climate. If only one to three months are above the 10 ° C mark, we are talking about a Csc climate, which, however, occurs only very rarely compared to the other two types.
    • Examples:
    • Cw (subtropical mountain climate): This climate can be found predominantly in mountainous regions of tropical and subtropical areas. It is also referred to as "cold tropical". Usually the daily fluctuations in areas with these climates are greater than the annual fluctuations. The average amount of precipitation in the wettest summer month is at least ten times that of the driest winter month due to the strong monsoon influence . The mean of the warmest month is below 22 ° C. If at least four months are above the 10 ° C mean, there is a Cwb type, otherwise a Cwc type.
    • Examples:
    • Cf (ocean climate): The Cfb climate is one of the most common types of climate, especially in Central and Western Europe. The precipitation is relatively evenly distributed. In the Cfb climate, the temperature of the four warmest months is above the 10 ° C mean, while the warmest is below the 22 ° C mark. The coldest month is on average above freezing point. In the case of the Cfc climate, which is also known as the subpolar ocean climate, as it is mainly found in the coastal areas of the subpolar zone , only one to three months averages 10 ° C or more.
    • Examples:

    D climate

    Boreal or snow forest climates
    With the exception of small areas on the southeast side of the New Zealand Alps , these climates only exist in the northern hemisphere . The coldest month has a temperature of less than 0 ° C or −3 ° C (depending on which isotherm is used), the warmest month is over 10 ° C.


    Snow climates, cold climates beyond the tree line (polar as well as high tree line ), with frequently occurring tundra-like permafrost soils . The warmest month is colder than 10 ° C. A distinction is made here between ET (tundra climate) and EF (permafrost climate) . In the latter case, the mean temperature of the warmest month is also below freezing point.

    Subdivision according to the proportion of rainfall

    • w = winter dry :
      • In the case of the C and D climates, the rainiest month of the warmer season has more than ten times as much precipitation as the rainiest month of the colder season.
      • With A climates, at least one month with less than 60 mm of precipitation must occur in the colder season in order to get an Aw climate.
    • s = summer dry :
      • With the C and D climates, the rainiest month of the cold season must have at least three times as much precipitation as the rainiest month of the warm season. For example, the Mediterranean climates fall into this group (Cs).
    • f = fully wet ( fully humid ):
    All months are humid; the driest month in the A climate has at least 60 mm of precipitation
    • m = monsoon ( monsoon ):
    Middle form between f and w in the area of ​​the tropical monsoon climate . There is a drying time, but it is short and not very effective. A rainforest grows in these climates despite the dry season.

    Differentiation of summer warmth and winter cold

    • Group for the C and D climates:
      • a = The temperature of the warmest month is over 22 ° C and at least 4 months warmer than 10 ° C.
      • b = All months are below 22 ° C, but there are at least 4 months that are warmer than 10 ° C.
      • c = Only 1 to 3 months are warmer than 10 ° C, the coldest month is not below −38 ° C.
      • d = Only 1 to 3 months are warmer than 10 ° C, the coldest month has a mean temperature of below -38 ° C (only possible for D climates).
    • Group for the B climates:
      • h = hot (the annual mean temperature is over 18 ° C.)
      • k = winter cold (the annual mean temperature is below 18 ° C, but the warmest month is above 18 ° C.)
      • k ' = like k, but even the warmest month in this climate is colder than 18 ° C.
    • Third group:
      • l = lukewarm (all months are between 10 ° C and 22 ° C.)
      • i = isothermal (the difference between the warmest and coldest month is less than 5 ° C.)

    Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification

    Based on the latest data sets from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia and the World Center for Precipitation Climatology (WZN) at the German Weather Service , a new digital Köppen-Geiger world map for the second half of the 20th century was created.

    Climate classification according to Troll and Paffen

    The joint work of Carl Troll and Karlheinz Paffen (1914–1983) uses a different scheme . This system is particularly widespread in ecology and its application in agriculture and forestry .

    The basis is the differentiation of the earth into five zone climates , which, however, are not defined independently, but indirectly via the assigned climate types. The system is based on the seasonal variation of the main climatic elements as well as the relationships between climate and natural vegetation ( vegetation zones and growth areas, phenology , etc.).

    The division into zone climates is as follows:

    I Polar-subpolar zone climate
    II Cold temperate boreal zone climate
    III Cool, moderate zone climate
    IV Warm temperate subtropical zone climate
    V Tropical zone climate

    The classification is based on the observation of the seasonal changes of the climatic elements ( radiation , temperature , precipitation ), the vegetation characteristics in the individual climatic zones are also strongly considered. High altitude climates are shown as variants of the location-related zone climates (e.g. Zone I in high mountains of medium latitudes).

    The classification is very detailed. It uses threshold values ​​and fixed value ranges for certain parameters in order to enable a further subdivision of the five major climatic zones . These parameters are the mean temperature of the warmest month, the mean temperature of the coldest month, the annual temperature amplitude, the duration of vegetation in days and the number of humid months (precipitation / moisture availability).

    Example: An oceanic boreal climate according to Troll's classification must offer a vegetation period of 120 to 180 days, the mean temperature of the warmest month must be between +10 and +15 degrees Celsius and the mean temperature of the coldest month between +2 and −3 degrees Celsius.

    USDA hardiness zones

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA ) developed a climate classification, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones , which only classifies areas based on the average coldest annual temperature. It is divided into 11 zones and a number of sub-zones and is primarily used to determine the northern limit of the range of plants.



    • W. Köppen: The warm zones of the earth, considered according to the duration of the hot, moderate and cold times and according to the effect of heat on the organic world. In: Meteorologische Zeitschrift 1, 1884, pp. 215-226 ( The thermal zones of the Earth according to the duration of hot, moderate and cold periods and to the impact of heat on the organic world. Transl., Ed. E. Volken , S. Brönnimann, Meteorologische Zeitschrift 20, 2011, pp. 351–360, doi: 10.1127 / 0941-2948 / 2011/105 )
    • W. Köppen: Classification of climates according to temperature, precipitation and the course of the year. In: Petermanns Geog. Mitt. , Vol. 64, 1918, pp. 193-203 and 243-248.
    • W. Köppen, G. Geiger (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Klimatologie . 5 volumes, Borntraeger Brothers, Berlin 1930–1939.
    • G. Geiger: Revised new edition by Geiger, R .: Koppen-Geiger / Climate of the Earth. Wall map 1:16 Mill., Klett-Perthes, Gotha 1961 (final version of the classification)

    Troll puffing:

    • C. Troll, KH Paffen. Map of the earth's seasonal climates. In: Geography. Arch. Wiss. Geogr. 18, 1964, pp. 5-28 ( PDF; 10.4 MB ).

    Web links


    Commons : Köppen-Geiger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Troll puffing:

    Hardiness Zones:

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Richard Pott: General Geobotany. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-540-23058-0 .
    2. Dieter Heinrich, Manfred Hergt: dtv atlas for ecology. 3rd ed., Ger. Taschenbuch-Verlag (dtv), 3228, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-423-03228-6 .
    3. ^ Climate classification of São Paulo state . Instituto Agronômico de Campinas. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
    4. Statistics for AUS QLD.Brisbane RMY . In: EnergyPlus . US Department of Energy. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
    5. koeppen-geiger.vu-wien.ac.at