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I have a continent with a fairly unusual extreme weather pattern, and I'm trying to think how it can fit into a relatively earth-like world.

The World

Temperate forests cover much of the Alben landscape. To the north is The Frost, a region of shifting tundra. To the west, the Forests of Varn give way to unexplored jungles. During spring and summer the weather is mild until the final weeks before autumn when drought is common. Summer rapidly cools into fall and winter, the first snowfall typically occurring in mid-september. Winter reaches its culmination in late February with a period of incredibly violent blizzards.

How can a climate like this exist on a continent a bit larger than Australia with boundary mountain ranges stretching typically sou-west to nor-east?

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  • $\begingroup$ If the weather is mild in spring and summer but there's snowfall from September and blizzards in February then it's sub-arctic, not temperate. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Mar 16 '18 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott mostly true, but what makes me less sure of that is the fact that just before fall begins there is typically the drought... $\endgroup$ – wolf Mar 16 '18 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ Isn't this Finland? Even northern Poland and Byelorussia would qualify if only you would push that first snowfall to October. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 16 '18 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP but would they still be like that if they were a continent unto themselves? Germany could fit iirc, but without the climate effects of the rest of europe it would be essentially iceland, but warmer. $\endgroup$ – wolf Mar 16 '18 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ Please add a map. It would provide more clarity to your question. $\endgroup$ – skout Mar 16 '18 at 16:06
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It's going to have to be a lot bigger than Australia if you want all of these climates in the same continent. Jungles are tropical climates (year-round average temperature 18C or above): assuming your planet is comparable to Earth, the latitude for that would be 20N or less (or up to 20S, but if you want tundra to the north you're definitely in the northern hemisphere). Tundra, by contrast, needs an average temperature of less than 10C year-round, with a lot of time spent below 0C. Looking at Earth, there's a minimum of 30 degrees of latitude between those two climates, more often 40 degrees.

As for your jungles being due west of your temperate forest, that doesn't quite add up. You're going to need to change that to southwest, most likely. You could also change the jungle to being on the eastern side and divide the two forests by a mountain range (the tectonics that would create a mid-continent mountain range are left as an exercise for the reader). Position your continent correctly (the southern edge being on the equator), and you should end up with a cold ocean current on the west side versus a warm one on the eastern edge, which would lower temperatures and rainfall to the west: this does risk creating a desert to the west, however, if you're not careful.

There might be some ways to work around the scale problem as well. Raising the altitude in the northern areas could let you create a tundra farther south than normal, if you're willing to have tundra limited to areas two thousand metres or more above sea level.

I'm not an expert on weather, but keep in mind that jungle climates are effectively by definition unable to ever receive snowfall; if it's anywhere near cold enough for snow, it's too cold to be tropical and thus is not a jungle. Snowfall starting up in September also seems rather early; if you give your planet a larger axial tilt, you might have that at a reasonable altitude, but that is not conducive to having tropical regions.

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  • $\begingroup$ After i had figured everything, i realized the jungle mistake. I wonder, considering the Cascades, could rainforest work? The "jungle is bordered on it's west by a coastline that might effect local snowfall... $\endgroup$ – wolf Mar 16 '18 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @wolf You don't quite seem to understand what defines a jungle. A tropical climate requires that temperatures average above 18C in all months, or by definition it's a different climate. You're not getting snow unless temperatures dip below 0C, which isn't happening in a tropical climate. Significant snowfall is only really present in continental climates, although temperate climates may receive some. Also, coastlines tend to reduce snowfall, not increase it (rainfall is another matter entirely); oceans have a moderating effect on temperatures near the coastline, reducing any extremes. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Mar 16 '18 at 15:50
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I think either your continent would have to be bigger to cover all of these climates or your planet would have to be smaller, but it wouldn't be Earth-like anymore (different weight, gravity, magnetic field,...)

I think making the continent slightly bigger might help, but you could play with altitude and landscape. Lower altitudes (Varn) would be tropical, medium altitudes would be more temperate and higher altitudes (Frost) would be colder.

You could also play with marine currents, a bit like the Gulf Stream, to "heat up" a part of your continent. This current could be linked to another land, bringing heat when that land is hot and not bringing anything when that land is cold.

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe instead of making the land mass larger, have an equatorial current pass to the south of the landmass, with maybe a sudden axial tilt at the end of summer and winter? $\endgroup$ – wolf Mar 16 '18 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this could work. Making the continent larger would just make thing easier for separating these climates. But, as I said, altitude could play a big part. $\endgroup$ – Hawker65 Mar 16 '18 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. I was pretty good at this stuff in high school, but 20 years later? I dont think I've used it since 10th grade! $\endgroup$ – wolf Mar 16 '18 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with altitude. The forest is on a high plateau and the jungles are in the lowlands. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 16 '18 at 12:59
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Must the Forest of Varn be typical jungles, or can they be temperate rainforests? An adjacent mountain range to collect rainfall moving in from the ocean, perhaps warmed by ocean currents that would heat the localised climate and produce yet more rainfall within the sheltered bowl that contain The Forests.

Seasonal variance in the ocean winds alters its direction, bringing rains around the other side of the dividing mountain ranges alleviating the drought beyond, and eventually falling as snow as the year wanes. This may correspond to a failing of rains in the Forests of Varn.

As others have said, if The Frost is at a higher elevation you could justify colder temperatures and perhaps permanent snow. The tundra between would likely be a cold desert if it lies directly behind the mountains sheltering the Forests of Varn, you could alleviate that closer to the Frost with meltwater from the lower slopes. So permafrost mountains>highland tundra>cold desert>mountains>temperate rainforest. Sounds like a plausible and very interesting continent to me!

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