About Wladimir Peter Köppen

Wladimir Peter Köppen was born in 1846 in St. Petersburg, Russia, to German parents and went to school in the Crimea where he soon developed an interest in the relationship between plants and climate zones. He studied at universities in St. Petersburg, Heidelberg and Leipzig, where he graduated in 1870.

In 1872 and 1873, he was employed at the Russian Meteorological Service. He returned to Germany in 1875 and became the chief of the new Division of Marine Meteorology at the German naval observatory in Hamburg – the forerunner of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). The work carried out at the Division of Marine Meteorology was gaining increasing recognition and finally led to the foundation of the maritime weather office, which is now part of Germany's National Meteorological Service (DWD). These two institutions, the BSH and the maritime weather office of the DWD, are based in Hamburg and are partners of the Cluster of Excellence.

The most important fields of research to Köppen were maritime meteorology and paleoclimatology, a subject on which he and his son-in-law Alfred Wegener published a book in 1924 entitled “The Climates of the Geological Past”. His work “Geographical System of Climates”, published in 1936, provided the first objective climate classification of the earth and is today considered to have been a groundbreaking contribution to the subject.