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WIREs Clim Change
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Observed and projected changes in global climate zones based on Köppen climate classification

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Abstract In recent years, there has been a growing body of literature applying the Köppen classification scheme to investigate the changes in the distribution of bioclimatic conditions. Area changes and latitude and elevation shifts of Köppen climate zones have been examined based on the observed and projected datasets. This review article provides a comprehensive insight into the changes in global Köppen climate zones. First, we summarize the advancements and limitations of different climate zone definitions and assess the available climate classification map products. We then review recent detection and assessment studies on observed and projected climate zone changes. Finally, we summarize the findings of the previous studies. It has been proven that changes in climate zones under global warming can have far‐reaching impacts on ecological systems. Since the 1980s, anthropogenic accelerated global warming has already led to shifts in climatic conditions over a large land area. Hot tropics and arid climates are projected to expand into large areas of middle and high latitudes, an expansion that is potentially linked to the intensification of the global hydrologic cycle. Driven by increased warming in the Arctic, high‐latitude climates will shift poleward and upward, leading to a significant area shrinkage of the polar climate zones. However, due to the large model uncertainties, the detectability of significant climate zone changes through observations and projections, the rate and time of the changes, and their causes remain unclear. In this paper, we identify the research gaps and propose directions for future research. This article is categorized under: Paleoclimates and Current Trends > Modern Climate Change
Global distribution of (a) major climate zones with data from present day (1980–2016) and (b) future (2071‐2100) Köppen‐Geiger climate classification map (Beck et al., 2018), (c) biomes with data from Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World (TEOW) (Olson et al., 2001), (d) World Reference Base (WRB) soil groups based on data from SoilGrids250m (Hengl et al., 2017), (e, f) present‐day (1980‐2016) and future (2071‐2100) 30 climate subtypes based on data from (Beck et al., 2018)
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Shifts between climate zones in the 21st century under different scenarios from previous literature (Beck et al., 2018; Rubel & Kottek, 2010). The detailed summary of the studies is presented in Table 5
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Regions that are projected to undergo changes by the end of the 21st century. (a,b) The major climates of these regions for the present‐day (1980–2016) and projected conditions (2071–2100), respectively. (c,d) The confidence levels (%) associated with the classification accuracy for the present‐day (1980–2016) and projected conditions (2071–2100), respectively. Data from present and future Köppen–Geiger climate classification maps at 1‐km resolution (Beck et al., 2018)
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Decadal trends in total area, average elevation, and average absolute latitude for climate zones, estimated from observational datasets, UD, GISS, and CRU, as well as HIST‐ALL, HIST‐GHG, and HIST‐NAT CMIP5 runs. Only significant model‐simulated trends are shown. HIST‐ALL runs are driven by forcing reconstructed from observational data, such as greenhouse gas concentrations and volcanic eruptions. HIST‐GHG is forced by greenhouse gas concentrations only, and HIST‐NAT is forced by natural factors only. Reprinted with the permission of Chan and Wu (2015)
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Observed and projected changes in (a) area, (b) mean latitude, and (c) mean elevation of the five major climate zones for the historical period (1950–2003) and projected future period (2003–2093). The inset figure in each panel shows the changes in the decadal trends with grading shades representing the long‐term trends forced by only natural climate fluctuations at the 95% confidence level. Reprinted with the permission of Chan and Wu (2015)
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Regions observed to undergo climate zone changes since the 1980s. (a) The historical major climates of these regions in 1961–1990 from historical data of Köppen–Geiger climatic zones (Kriticos et al., 2012). (b) The present major climates of these regions in 1980–2016 from the present‐day Köppen‐Geiger climate classification map (Beck et al., 2018)
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