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The Swedish meteorologist Tor Bergeron proposes that all raindrops with a diameter greater than 0.02 inch (0.5 mm) and all snowflakes originate from ice crystals that form around hygroscopic nuclei. His idea becomes the basis for almost all of cloud physics of available moisture, were controlled by air temperature. Koppen then assigned a second letter to subdivide these groups further into climate types. For example, in group A, the temperature of the coolest month is greater than or equal to 64.4°F (18°C). If an area within (A) receives at least 2.36 inches (60 mm) of rain in its driest month (subgroup [f]), it is designated as Af. If significant variations appeared within the climate types, a third letter refined the definition.

The Koppen scheme had its detractors. Climate is the principal determining factor in the types of plants and animals that find their ecological niche in a particular area, but it is not the only one. For example, soil types and their ability to hold moisture are also important to vegetation. Plants may be able to survive in areas where there is limited rainfall as long as the soil holds the moisture that does fall. The same plants may also be found where there is more rainfall and the soil has good drainage characteristics that prevent the root system from drowning. In either case, the ability of plants to survive also directly affects the ability of animals dependent upon them for food or shelter to survive. Koppen's scheme did not take weather extremes into account. The average conditions may be punctuated by periods of extreme drought or cold that are

MILESTONES

1935

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