Box: Detailed Description of the Köppen Climatic Types
Tropical Moist Climates (A)
Tropical moist climates
extend northward and southward from the equator to about 15 to 25° of latitude. In these climates all months have average temperatures greater than 18° Celsius. Annual precipitation
is greater than
1 500 mm. Three minor Köppen climate
types exist in the A group
, and their designation is based on seasonal distribution of rainfall. Af
or tropical wet is a tropical climate
occurs all year long. Monthly temperature
variations in this climate
are less than 3° Celsius. Because of intense surface heating and high humidity
clouds form early in the afternoons almost every day. Daily highs are about 32° Celsius, while night time temperatures average 22° Celsius. Am
is a tropical monsoon climate
. Annual rainfall is equal to or greater than Af
, but most of the precipitation
falls in the 7 to 9 hottest months. During the dry season very little rainfall occurs. The tropical wet and dry
) has an extended dry season during winter. Precipitation
during the wet season is usually less than 1 000 millimeters, and only during the summer season.
Dry Climates (B)
The most obvious climatic feature of this climate is that potential evaporation and transpiration exceed precipitation. These climates extend from 20 - 35° North and South of the equator and in large continental regions of the mid-latitudes often surrounded by mountains. Minor types of this climate include:
BW - dry arid (desert) is a true desert climate. It covers 12% of the Earth’s land surface and is dominated by xerophytic vegetation (plants able to survive in climates with little or no water). The additional letters h and k are used generally to distinguish whether the dry arid climate is found in the subtropics or in the mid-latitudes, respectively.
BS - dry semiarid (steppe). Is a grassland climate that covers 14% of the Earth’s land surface. It receives more precipitation than the BW either from the intertropical convergence zone or from mid-latitude cyclones. Once again, the additional letters h and k are used generally to distinguish whether the dry semiarid climate is found in the subtropics or in the mid-latitudes, respectively.
Moist Subtropical Mid-Latitude Climates (C)
generally has warm and humid summers with mild winters. Its extent is from 30 to 50° of latitude mainly on the eastern and western borders of most continents. During the winter, the main weather
feature is the mid-latitude cyclone
. Convective thunderstorms
dominate summer months. Three minor types exist: Cfa
- humid subtropical; Cs
; and Cfb
. The humid subtropical climate
) has hot muggy summers and frequent thunderstorms. Winters are mild and precipitation
during this season comes from mid-latitude cyclones
. A good example of a Cfa climate
is the southeastern USA. Cfb
marine climates are found on the western coasts of continents. They have a humid climate
with short dry summer. Heavy precipitation
occurs during the mild winters because of the continuous presence of mid-latitude cyclones
. Mediterranean climates (Cs
) receive rain primarily during winter season from the mid-latitude cyclone. Extreme summer aridity is caused by the sinking air of the subtropical highs
and may exist for up to 5 months. Locations in North America are from Portland, Oregon to all of California.
Moist Continental Mid-latitude Climates (D)
Moist continental mid-latitude climates have warm to cool summers and cold winters. The location of these climates is pole ward of the C climates. The average temperature of the warmest month is greater than 10° Celsius, while the coldest month is less than -3° Celsius. Winters are severe with snowstorms, strong winds, and bitter cold from Continental Polar or Arctic air masses. Like the C climates there are three minor types: Dw - dry winters; Ds - dry summers; and Df - wet all seasons.
Polar Climates (E)
Polar climates have year-round cold temperatures with the warmest month less than 10° Celsius. Polar climates are found on the northern coastal areas of North America, Europe, Asia, and on the landmasses of Greenland and Antarctica. Two minor climate types exist. ET or polar tundra is a climate where the soil is permanently frozen to depths of hundreds of meters, a condition known as permafrost. Vegetation is dominated by mosses, lichens, dwarf trees and scattered woody shrubs. EF or polar ice caps has a surface that is permanently covered with snow and ice.
Source: Pidwirny 2006