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Wladimir Peter Köppen (September 25, 1846 in Saint Petersburg, RussiaJune 22, 1940 in Graz, Austria) was a German meteorologist, climatologist and botanist. He elaborated the Kppen climate classification system, which is still commonly used today to group climates into similar types (albeit with modifications).

Although Köppen's parents were German, he himself was born in Russia and attended a school in Crimea. While being at the school, it was the first time that Köppen was attracted by the environment and especially by the relationship between plants and the climate they grow in. Later, he studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Leipzig in Germany where he graduated in 1870. His student dissertation dealt with the effects of temperature on plant growth.

Between 1872 and 1873 Köppen was employed in the Russian meteorological service. In 1875, he moved back to Germany and became the chief of the new the Division of marine meteorology at the German naval observatory (Deutsche Seewarte) based in Hamburg. There he was responsible for establishing a weather forecasting service for the northwestern part of Germany and the adjacent sea areas. After four years of service, he was able to move on to his primary interest - the fundamental research - and left the meteorological office.

Köppen began a systematic study of the climate and also experimented with balloons to obtain data from upper air. In 1884, he published the first version of his map of climatic zones in which the seasonal temperature ranges were plotted. This work led to the development of the Köppen climate classification system around 1900, which he kept improving for the rest of his life. The full version of his system appeared first in 1918 and, after several modifications, the final version was published in 1936.

Apart from the description of various climate types, he was acquainted with paleoclimatology as well. In 1924 he and his son-in-law Alfred Wegener published a paper called Die Klimate der Geologischen Vorzeit (The climates of the geological past) giving a crucial support to the Milankovic theory on ice ages.

Towards the end of his life, Köppen cooperated with the German climatologist Rudolf Geiger to produce a five-volume work, Handbuch der Klimatologie (Handbook of climatology). This was never completed, but several parts, three of them by Köppen, were published. After Köppen's death in 1940, Geiger continued to work on the modifications to the climate classification system.

References

fr:Wladimir Peter Kppen he:ולדימיר קפן nl:Vladimir Kppen ja:ウラジミール・ペーター・ケッペン

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