I have been slowly losing my mind trying to build a somewhat realistic climate map for a fantasy world I'm building for my book. A geographer I am not... I modeled the climate zones and such after this article: https://medium.com/universe-factory/climate-modeling-101-4544e00a2ff2

I've been staring at it for so long now that I've lost perspective, and would be really grateful for some feedback on if it makes sense or not.

Also, I realised I put a large river in a subtropical area (starting from the mountains right at the northern subtropical ridge). There is a country here and I was thinking of it kind of like the Nile with settlements around the river. Is it completely unrealistic for a large river to go through this area? Thankful for any and all help!

Climate zone map

I also made a rough map of the precipitation, where blue is more rain, dark blue is monsoon area, yellow is medium precipitation, and orange is drier. It's a bit of a rough map, but this wasn't explained too much in the article and was honestly losing patience by the time I got to this point of constructing this world. I tried reading some other resources on precipitation, but finding it a little hard to pin down.

Precipitation map

Feedback would be very appreciated. Thanks!



Do you mean something like this with changing the coasts? Is it reversed on the south hemisphere compared to the north since the winds go the other way? I left the arrows for the winds in, hope that these are right...

Is it just the precipitation map that is wrong, or was it the actual climate zones map as well? I did look into the Koppen classification a bit, but I'm not really looking at doing something that detailed, I just want to make sure the zones are believable/accurate.

Thanks for all your comments and help!

Updated precipitation map

Changed the climate map a little bit as well, mainly because I needed the desert climate to come down a little further on the continent to the right (next to the canyon), mainly for storytelling reasons. Does that look realistic? Thanks!

Updated climate map


So, I've tried doing the Koppen climate classifications and adding it to my map. So far I've only finished the right continent, but I thought I'd post it and see if it looks ok. The continent on the left is a WIP, I don't intend to leave that whole area as Cfa and Af, but the right continent is the most important one initially for my story, so I focused on that one.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I suggest you dig into the Koppen Climate Classification en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6ppen_climate_classification. Your coastal climates are not right. For instance on northern continents, the western coast is mild and wet if there is a mountain range. Think Seattle and Portland. Then dry on the other side of the mountains. The middle of continents are cold and hot. Obviously at the equator they will be more tropical. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveS. that depends on the rotation of the planet. Does it spin in the same direction as Earth, or the other way round? $\endgroup$
    – DarthDonut
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DarthDonut Simple fix. Just switch coasts for those climates. Just as you would moving from northern to southern hemisphere $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DarthDonut, by definition east is the direction the planet spins toward, and if you look east the north is to your left, south to your right, and west behind you. If the planet rotates the other way, you make a 180 degree turn and...north is to your left, south to your right, and west is behind you. The map would simply be rotated 180 degrees as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Hey! Thanks for all your advice, I tried to make a few edits, does it look better? Is that what you meant? I tried looking into Koppen climate classifications a bit, but am not looking to make it that detailed really. I tried to switch the coasts like you said, but I read that it's reversed on the southern hemisphere because of the winds? Anyway, thanks for your help and I'd be grateful to hear if my last attempt is any better... $\endgroup$
    – Nora R
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 15:12

3 Answers 3


A geographer, I am. A graphics artist, I am not.

Caveat: Climate and worldbuilding is enormously complex, so feel free to edit as you like: we don't even fully understand our own planet yet! And I will stress over and over that your map is fine the way it is, but since you asked..

Your map is not impossible, but there are going to be some changes needed to be a little more believable. Considering your climate mock-up, recall that you will have very earth-like currents bringing warm water from the equator north to push cold water south. This is why, for example, Tokyo is the same latitude as Los Angeles, but is much cooler – it gets the ‘cold’ water. It’s also why Portugal reaches as far north as Maine, but is much, much warmer.

So let’s put in your currents and make one face warmer than the other and vice-versa.

enter image description here

Now, let’s look at your precipitation. With these currents, you’re sending warm, tropical weather west in general, assuming a similar earthlike planet.

Let’s look at continent B, which will be exciting. The only major change is that you’re going to have a crazy ‘waistline’ area – warm and wet meets cold and wet, cold and dry: thunderstorms, tornadoes and havoc all year round.

Your Nile is not unrealistic, but I'd posit that a more similar Nile can be found in the southwest quarter of Continent B. Arid, and put your massive river running through.

Finally, your little island in the southwest will be receiving a lot of warm, humid air against a colder latitude. This makes for a very bio-diverse region particularly as it's isolated from other major continents. Have fun and be imaginative with your little Madagascar!

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the fact that currents play a big part in climate. Geography, currents, star-planet interfacing (distance, angle, temp, etc.). $\endgroup$
    – KenLFG
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @KenLFG - yes, currents in a place (like Earth) that has an enormous amount of temperature-moderating forces (like Water) means wonderful climate implications. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ I'm also operating under the assumption that the OP is American, otherwise I can change the descriptions. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 14:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, question about the currents: I thought that the ocean currents went clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter clockwise in the southern hemisphere? I realise that's over simplifying things, but when I was trying to work out my climate that's the basic idea I got from what I was reading. $\endgroup$
    – Nora R
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Nora you’re correct about the oceanic circulation patterns - since your climatic cells match those of Earth and the Coriolis force is the same (deflecting to the right in the northern hemisphere, left in the southern) the gyres should be clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter in the southern. Not sure why Mikey thinks your world is different. $\endgroup$
    – Dubukay
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 16:33

Yea, this is actually really accurate, assuming that the planet is the size of earth, or something similar. I like the touch of monsoon as well.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! Could you add a bit more explanation about how you know this is accurate, so others can follow and learn from your thought process? Thanks. You can edit your answer to add more details. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I got some comments that my coasts were wrong, so I added an edit where I changed a few things, do you think it's more accurate that way? Thanks for your help! $\endgroup$
    – Nora R
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 15:16

So, no hard science from my side, but I'm really interested in this topic, so I gathered some knowledge on this. Most of the map is really accurate, and i like how you took the mountains in account for desertification. There are two things that aren't that likely to occur (but still possible):
The river on southern part of the continent on the right. They mountains would cause most of the rain to fall on their western side, which would make a river flowing east less likely. But this depends on the formation on the Mountains, it could still be possible that the rain falling west and on top of the mountains feeds a river eastwards. If that's relevant (and important) for you, you should maybe describe this area. (Similarity to Earth: Atacama Desert)
The second thing i would like to point out is way up in the north of the right continent. I suspect the area east of the Mountains a total wasteland. Similar to the Gobi Desert, it's far into the continent and shielded by mountains. I guess this would be very cold, harsh and dry lands. (This is only a possibility, not a fact, as this is a fictional world. Some streams of air and such things could behave slightly differently, leading to a different climate.)


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