Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Köppen, Wladimir Peter (Russia-Germany
Photo courtesy of the
the American Meteorological Society.
|Köppen's diverse training in the basic sciences served him well
over a professional career that extended into eight decades. He is best
known for his celebrated climate classification scheme, work on which
he began in the 1880s, but which culminated in his most famous work, "Das
Geographische System der Klimate," as late as 1936 (when Köppen was
ninety). Köppen's model integrated precipitation and temperature
regimes in such a fashion as to relate climate to vegetation patterns,
thus serving thinking in several fields, notably climatology, meteorology,
phytogeography, hydrography, and physiological ecology. Earlier, he had
made a name for himself by simplifying and improving the oceanic wind
charts developed by oceanographer Matthew Maury to such an extent that
he is sometimes referred to as the father of maritime meteorology. Köppen
also worked in the area of paleoclimatology, his most important publication
in this realm being Die Klimate der Geologischen Vorzeit (co-written
with Alfred Wegener, his son-in-law), which featured arguments supporting
the Milankovic cycles theory of the origin of the Ice Age. His most ambitious
project was perhaps his Handbuch der Klimatologie: this was never
completed, but still ran to five volumes with the help of his co-editor
on the project, Rudolf Geiger. Köppen's personal motto was reputedly
"without haste and without rest," as is evident from his large but solid
body of work.|
--born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 25 September 1846.
--1864-1870: studies botany, zoology, physics, and climatology at St.
Petersburg, Heidelberg, and Leipzig; completes his doctorate in 1870
--1872-1873: works for the Russian Meteorological Service
--1874: publishes "Über die Abhängigkeit des Klimatischen Charakters
der Winde von Ihrem Ursprunge" in Reportorium für Meteorologie
(relating wind to air pressure)
--1875: moves to Germany and is made chief of the marine meteorology division
of the German naval observatory (Deutsche Seewarte) in Hamburg
--1884: publishes an early version of his map of climatic zones
--1886-1891: co-editor, Zeitschrift, Deutsche Meteorologische Gesellschaft
--1899: publishes his Grundlinien der Maritimen Meteorologie
--1919: retires from the German naval observatory; succeeded by A. L.
--1924: publishes his Die Klimate der Geologischen Vorzeit, with
A. L. Wegener
--1930-1939: co-edits the Handbuch der Klimatologie, in five
volumes, with R. Geiger
--1931: publishes his Grundriss der Klimakunde
--1936: publishes "Das Geographische System der Klimate" in Band 1 of
the Handbuch der Klimatologie
--dies at Graz, Austria, on 22 June 1940.
--Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 77(5)
--Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate, Vol. 1 (2002).
--Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists, 2nd Ed., Vol. 1 (1994).
--Dictionary of German Biography, Vol. 5 (2003).
--Wladimir Köppen: Ein Gelehrtenleben (1955).
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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