I know this may seem like an obvious no, but with the newest Star Wars movie just released, there is a mineral-rich planet called Crait which I have seen make a few debates about whether or not this is single-biomed or not?

Sticking to the World-Building community however would it be possible, given ideas like extreme rotations of axis vertically, or unparalleled atmospheric conditions that such planets could be scientifically proven to theoretically exist?

Bonus question: If so, could there be a variety that could sustain life and how?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, DiagonalCorgi, its an interesting idea. Generally single-biome planets seem unlikely. Barriers like mountain ranges, oceans, rivers and lakes as well as variations of climate and insolation will create different environments. This makes single-biomes planets improbable. Not necessarily impossible, but extremely unlikely. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ Would this case extend to gas planets? Do they have their own different Biomes or would they even have their own set of Biomes based on wind patterns and temperature? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ Very likely. I generally don't like fictional examples, but Alastair Reynolds & Stephen Baxter's Medusa Chronicles makes an excellent case for multiple biomes in gas giants. Differences in depth, pressure,and temperature specifically make very different environments. Gas giants should have multi-layered biomes as well as different environments in any given layer. They will be very complex -- assuming life can evolve in gas giants. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ Almost certainly not naturally. Android already explained that part. But what a biome is is defined via earth's biomes. It's not derived from first principles. It's not a property of nature. You can define it any way you like and for a different planet, a different definition has to be used. But I always like to mention: If you are not just asking out of curiosity but plan to build a world, always remember that planets are gigantic and there is no need if you want to be "realistic". Of course Star Wars doesn't have this aspiration $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 9:14

3 Answers 3



There are examples of this in real life, that we know of. In fact, basically every planet that we know of other than Earth is a single-biome planet. Mars is a freezing desert planet, Titan is a hydrocarbon snow "planet", Venus is a crushing, superheated, acidic hellscape planet, Io is a volcano "planet", and there are a number of airless dust 'planets' like Mercury, the Moon, and a number of the larger asteroids and moons.

Of course, none of these planets are habitable, barring the construction of sealed colonization buildings.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And as an extra bonus, Earth has been a "single-biome planet" in the past, possibly multiple times - a "lava world", a "snowball", a "desert planet", maybe even an "ocean planet" (there's some theories that continents couldn't form in their present form before oceans existed), and super-continents were often very dry too. It's not exactly clear how long each of these was ("lava world" probably lasted far longer than the other imbalances), but any random Earth-like planet has probably something like 1-2 in 5 chance of being a "single-biome planet" at any given time. $\endgroup$
    – Luaan
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 9:09

To give your question a sociological answer rather than a geographic one, I think it's possible to have planets with multiple biomes which are, none the less, known as single biome planets. For example, take Africa.

How many distinct biomes, cultures, and governments exist in Africa? And how often do people think of or refer to Africa as a single, homogeneous place? It's far away, and we don't consume very much media that is produced there. It takes a lot of effort to have a nuanced view of Africa.

That tendency to simplify places which are foreign to us is going to be so much stronger in a galactic empire. Every planet is going to be reduced to a tag line. Desert planet. Ice planet. Jungle moon. Lava world.

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    $\begingroup$ Remember to keep in mind that you are on the internet and what you're writing could be read anywhere in the world. "we" could be anyone, even someone living in Africa. $\endgroup$
    – Muuski
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 12:41

Yes but your planet will only have primitive lifeforms.

For ex:

Ice planet with liquid ocean under the ice crust:

Imagine an ice planet with an active core and volcanic activity really far from its sun. Such a planet would have a 10km thick crust of ice under which there is a liquid ocean. The core of the planet is hot enough to melt the ice crust but because the planet is too far from the sun, its ocean is frozen on the surface (~ -200C surface temperature).

Because the core is active, there is volcanic activity. Hydrothermal vent (underwater volcanoes) activity forms oasis of lifes. They provide heat and nutrients. Life is not based on photosynthesis. The deep-sea organisms living on your planet have no access to sunlight, so they must depend on nutrients found in the dusty chemical deposits and hydrothermal fluids in which they live.

You basically only have 1 biome on this planet. Since the energy doesn't come from the sun, being at the poles or equators doesn't really matter. Seasons also don't matter. The only thing that matters is if you are close to a hydrothermal vent.

Some researchers think Europa or Io could be like that.

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting. And the ice crust would be kind of a replacement for an atmosphere, because not much would get through 10km of ice. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ Great example, but I still see multiple biomes there. At the very least, there's the "near geothermal vent" and "not near vent" that you mentioned, plus different organisms would likely have different ideal temperature requirements, leading to multiple biomes along the thermal gradient. Water currents will also produce distinction by still vs. flowing vs. turbulent regions. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 8:24

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