As I understand it, the deserts require a number of conditions to occur, leading to the overall decrease in precipitation. And areas around equator usually lack these.

While there are some deserts near equator, they are small and mostly formed by the rain shadow of the mountain range around Kilimanjaro.

Is it possible for a desert to be formed on the equator simply because the amount of land between its location and the nearest ocean is so vast, as to drain any clouds long before they reach that far inland?

Would continentality cause the desert to swing between super hot summers and super cold winters? Or, since there are barely any seasonal variations in solar irradiation around equator, would it simply be hot all year long?

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    $\begingroup$ Very hot during day time, very cold during night time, all year round. Just like the Sahara. And Earth absolutely has hot deserts right on the Equator: northern Kenya and southern Somalia are hot and arid. Consider for example the climate of Wajir. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 18, 2020 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


Such a desert would likely be small and specific to the topography of the area.

Equatorial rainforests produce 50% to 75% of their own rain and prevailing winds would carry this farther inland than their oceanic moisture would travel. With enough distance this could dwindle the biomes down through savannah, steppe, etc to desert.

For a larger desert you would need an interior rain shadow to block this secondhand rain and redirect any rivers away from the interior. There would need to be a corresponding mountain range to block moisture from the opposing side of the continent. At this point though it has little to do with the equatorial heat or location.

But Pangaea--

There is evidence of unbroken equatorial aridity in Pangaea's interior around the Middle to Late Permian (255 MA) centred on the Central Pangaea Mountains (today's Appalachian and Atlas mountains) which were comparable in height to the Himalayas:

Pangaea 290 MA and 255 MA


But also consider the Late Permian climate is characterized as significantly hotter and drier than today, to the point of mass extinction.


Pangaea. Evidence suggests the super-continent had extensive deserts in the interior with temperatures reaching up to 45C. This was because moisture precipitated out of he atmosphere before reaching the central regions of the continent. Other factors including latitude of specific parts of the continent and then prevailing environmental conditions helped.

I haven't researched where the desert areas were located in respect to the equator but you are free to do.


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