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What I have

I plan to create an 'alternative timeline' for the earth, which means most of the earth's features are identical, the only major difference is, that humans appeared at another time, so although all continents are there, they have changed in shape and position a little. (a few 100000 years prior/subsequent to our current date)

On this world, two major powers fought over Europe - which shares an identical climate as the original Europe - while one slowly won and forced the other to retreat to Africa.

What I want

I want my Africa to be an even more hostile and barren continent without the rainy and fertile jungle. Even without a jungle, life the equator shouldn't be the worst place to live.

However, Africa should not become an uninhabitable continent, just one that makes life pretty miserable, which will be the main reason for some pretty desperate attempts to reconquer Europe for my losing faction.

I want my planet to have some distinct differences from earth while still being as similar as possible, while I don't care about changing the solar system.

What I need

  • Europe keeps its climate
  • The continents resemble shape and position of our current continents.
  • Africa has no fertile ground aside from around the rivers
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If you want to prevent any tropical rainforest while making sure Africa still looks like Africa, it probably boils down to climate alterations. You've got two basic pathways to that: making temperature swings such that at least one season drops below 18C, or reducing rainfall.

Near the equator, changes to temperature are unlikely, at least not without astronomical details being changed, and that would cascade into effects over the rest of the globe. As such, I would recommend modifying precipitation instead. This is a tricky objective, given that geography changes that would modify continental shape significantly are forbidden by your question, but not outright impossible.

I would recommend the addition of one or more mountain ranges along the southern coasts, comparable to the Andes or North America's Rocky Mountains, to create a rain-shadow effect in the interior. Precise placement depends on where the rainfall is being blown in from, which I don't know offhand, but the southeastern coast is probably a good point to start. If you still want some rain on the inside, make a few mountain passes. You'll have a rain-heavy coastline still (look at the Pacific Northwest in Canada for a probable example, but warmer), but it will be a narrow band. The plate tectonic changes that would be needed to make this geologically plausible are left as an exercise for the reader (if deemed necessary for the story).

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree that a rain shadow is pretty much the only way to do it, given the restrictions. See the Wikipedia article on atmospheric circulation for a better understanding of why central Africa is generally wet and the north and south ends are drier. $\endgroup$ – MJ713 Aug 10 '18 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ this is a really solid answers and hits right in the spot of what I was looking for. Thanks $\endgroup$ – Azzarrel Aug 10 '18 at 22:02
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I don't believe it can be done. The climates of the different regions of the world are all intertwined. If it's unusually cool in South America, it will be cooler in Europe, because Europe gets a lot of its heat from ocean currents that originate off the coast of South America. Every region has situations like that.

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