Trewartha climate classification

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The Trewartha climate classification is a climate classification system published by American geographer Glenn Thomas Trewartha in 1966, and updated in 1980. It is a modified version of the 1899 Köppen system, created to answer some of the deficiencies of the Köppen system.[1] The Trewartha system attempts to redefine the middle latitudes to be closer to vegetation zoning and genetic climate systems. It was considered a more true or "real world" reflection of the global climate.[2] For example, under the standard Köppen system, western Washington and Oregon are classed into the same climate zone as Southern California, even though the two regions have strikingly different weather and vegetation.


Trewartha's modifications sought to reclass the middle latitudes into three groups: C (subtropical)—8 or more months have a mean temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) or higher; D (temperate)—4 to 7 months have a mean temperature of 10 °C or higher; E (boreal or subarctic)—1 to 3 months have a mean temperature of 10 °C or higher; and F (Polar) have all months with a mean temperature below 10 C.

Group A: Tropical climates[edit]

This the tropical climate realm, defined the same as in Köppen's scheme (i.e., all 12 months average 18 °C/64.4 F or above). The "A" climates are the realm of the winterless frost-free zone.

Cimates with no more than two dry months (defined as having less than 60 mm average precipitation, same as per Köppen) are classified Ar, while others are classified Aw if the dry season is at the time of low sun/short days or As if the dry season is at the time of high sun/long days. There was no specific monsoon climate identifier in the original scheme, but Am was added later, with the same parameters as Köppen's (except that at least three months, rather than one, must have less than 60 mm average precipitation).

Group B: Dry (arid and semi-arid) climates[edit]

BW and BS mean the same as in the Köppen scheme, with the Köppen BWn climate sometimes being designated BM (the M standing for "marine"). However, a different formula is used to quantify the aridity threshold: 10(T − 10) + 3P, with T equaling the mean annual temperature in degrees Celsius and P denoting the percentage of total precipitation received in the six high-sun months (April through September in the Northern Hemisphere and October through March in the Southern).[3]

If the precipitation for a given location is less than the above formula, its climate is said to be that of a desert (BW); if it is equal to or greater than the above formula but less than twice that amount, the climate is classified as steppe (BS); and if the precipitation is more than double the value of the formula the climate is not in Group B. Unlike in Köppen's scheme, no thermal subsets exist within this group in Trewartha's, unless the Universal Thermal Scale (see below) is used.

Group C: Subtropical climates[edit]

In the Trewartha scheme the "C" climate group encompasses Subtropical climates that have 8 or more months with a mean temperature of 10 C (50 F) or higher.

There are only two types within the "C" or subtropical climate group, Cs which is a dry -summer or Mediterranean climate, and a Cf or humid Subtropical climate. Cw types occur within the Cf group and mean subtropical Monsoon climates (like much of east Asia).

For Subtropical climates, a third letter is often used (a or b) to denote a hot or cool summer. "Cfa" is where the warmest month has a mean temperature of 22.2 C/72 F or higher, and "Cfb" is used where the warmest month of summer is below 22.2 C.

Group D: Temperate and continental climates[edit]

In the Trewartha scheme the "D" climate group encompasses Temperate climates that have 4 to 7 months with a mean temperature of 10 C (50 F) or higher.

"D" climate groups have two types - a Oceanic type (Do), where the coldest month has a mean temperature of 0 C/32 F or higher, and a Continental type (Dc), where the coldest monthly mean temperature below 0 C (or 2.2 C/36 F in some interior landmasses like North America and Asia).

For the continental climates (Dc), sometimes the third letter (a or b) is used to denote a hot or cold summer. "Dca" is where the warmest month has a mean temperature of 22.2 C/72 F or higher, and "Dcb" is used for cool summer temperate climates, where the warmest month has a mean temperature below 22.2 C.

Group E: Boreal climates[edit]

This represents subarctic climate realms, defined the same as in Köppen's scheme, where 1 to 3 months have an average temperature of 10 °C 50 F or above. In this climate zone there is only a short period (normally 50 to 90 days) that is frost free.

Group F: Polar climates[edit]

This is the polar climate group, where all months must have a monthly mean air temperature of below 10°C/50 F. Polar climates have two subtypes Ft (tundra) and Fi (ice cap):

In the "Ft" climate type, one month has an average temperate above 0 C/32 F (but not above 10 C), so that there is a brief time when the surface might be free of snow or ice and a scrub or Tundra vegetation cover is possible.

In the "Fi" climate type, all months have an average temperature below 0 C, this is the region of the vast deserts of perpetually frozen Ocean in the North Pole, and the permanent ice plateaus of Antarctica and Greenland.

Group H: Highland climates[edit]

Highland climates, in which altitude plays a role in determining climate classification.[4] Specifically, this would apply if correcting the average temperature of each month to a sea-level value using the formula of adding 5.6 °C for each 1,000 meters of elevation would result in the climate fitting into a different thermal group than that into which the actual monthly temperatures place it.

Sometimes G is used instead of H if the above is true and the altitude is 500 meters or higher but lower than 2,500 meters; but the G or H is placed in front of the applicable thermal letter rather than replacing it — and the second letter used reflects the corrected monthly temperatures, not the actual monthly temperatures.

Universal Thermal Scale[edit]

An option exists to include information on both the warmest and coldest months for every climate by adding a third and fourth letter, respectively. The letters used conform to the following scale:

i — severely hot: Mean monthly temperature ≥35 °C (95 °F) or higher
h — very hot: 28 to 34.9 °C (82.4 to 94.8 °F)
a — hot: 23 to 27.9 °C (73.4 to 82.2 °F)
b — warm: 18 to 22.9 °C (64.4 to 73.2 °F)
l — mild: 10 to 17.9 °C (50.0 to 64.2 °F)
k — cool: 0.1 to 9.9 °C (32.2 to 49.8 °F)
o — cold: −9.9 to 0 °C (14.2 to 32.0 °F)
c — very cold: −24.9 to −10 °C (−12.8 to 14.0 °F)
d — severely cold: −39.9 to −25 °C (−39.8 to −13.0 °F)
e — excessively cold: −40 °C (−40 °F) or below.

Examples of the resulting designations include Afaa for Surabaya, Indonesia, BWhl for Aswan, Egypt, Crhk for Dallas, Texas, U.S. DObk for London, EClc for Arkhangelsk, Russia, and FTkd for Barrow, Alaska, U.S..

See also[edit]

  • Holdridge life zones climate classification by three dimensions: precipitation, humidity, and potential evapotranspiration ratio


  1. ^ Peel MC, Finlayson BL, McMahon TA (2007) Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 11: 1633−1644
  2. ^ Akin, Wallace E. (1991). Global Patterns: Climate, Vegetation, and Soils. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-8061-2309-5. 
  3. ^ Patton CP (1962) A note on the classification of dry climate in the Köppen system. California Geographer 3: 105−112
  4. ^ McKnight, 237–40

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