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I've been trying to come up with some climate zones for my earth-like planet for a while now- Ocean and wind currents are basically like for like with earth- and-enter image description here this is about the third iteration I've made so far. It's getting there, but as I pay more attention to climate zones, I find myself more confused or just making more mistakes. I've tried to use video tutorials on Youtube to help, however part of the problem is my own fault- I rushed in and haven't come up with any heightmaps to help me craft the world, besides the mountains on display. What should I do or improve to make these areas more realistic?

EDIT:Thanks to some quick replies,I can help narrow things down a bit. I'm aiming to have a believable amount of realism, with enough room for creative license. Not exactly "soft realism" or high fantasy, but I don't want to go into the level of detail or restrictiveness that hard realism would require.

Considering my copy paste is pretty tiny, the zones (bands) in the overlay represent:

  • Red: the tropics
  • Yellow: subtropics
  • Green: temperate
  • None: Arctic zones

As for the little legend I've got going on, it's as follows:

Color Climate
Light green, tropics Rainforest
medium green Savannah
bright red, tropics Hot desert
dark red Hot steppes
darkest green Monsoon
light, bright blue, temperate Humid continental
medium blue, western coasts Mediterranean
greeny-yellowish Humid subtropical
Dark Blue, Eastern coasts Oceanic
pink Cold desert
northernmost blue Subarctic continental
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  • $\begingroup$ May I ask how you came up with that map? $\endgroup$
    – KEY_ABRADE
    Sep 6, 2021 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ @KEY_ABRADE Are you asking what process he used to flesh out continents, islands, and coastlines, or are you asking what tool he used to draw the map? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 7, 2021 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact All of it. $\endgroup$
    – KEY_ABRADE
    Sep 7, 2021 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @ahrucius, if you have a moment, enter our Worldbuilding Meta and post a "question" that describes what tools and processes you used to create your map. Map making is a big deal here, and you've created a beautiful map. If you'd do that, it would be amazing and greatly appreciated. (I suggest Worldbuilding Meta rather than Main simply because it'll be a bit more awkward to post on Main. When you're done, we'll add it to our list of Worldbuilding resources.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 7, 2021 at 21:31

1 Answer 1

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Do you have an ocean circulation map to go with the biome overlay? The exact details of current flow have huge effects on real world climate compared to what pure atmospheric circulation interactions would tend to suggest. For example large parts of Europe would be frozen dry tundra if it weren't for the Gulf Stream but with it Northern Europe is warm and wet. On the other hand the Humboldt Current keeps coastal Peru much colder and drier than it's tropical location would suggest.

If your world has Earthlike spin then some of the rainshadows look to be reversed but I'm not firing on all cylinders right now so I'll just say be careful that you have you wind patterns the right way around and take Coriolis into account when you work out the wet and dry side of mountain ranges. This effect is huge in my neck of the woods so I tend to harp on about it but Orographic precipitation triples our local rainfall compared to the other side of the divide.

Otherwise you appear to have taken note of the often overlooked maritime climate effects and your climate bands are in the right places. Remember that the smaller and flatter a body of land the farther those effects will reach and truly desert islands only occur where the water is cold and the atmosphere is naturally dry. Isla Guadalupe which is in the suptropical desert band where dry air falls and in the middle of the Humboldt Current so the water doesn't give up any extra moisture that would otherwise support plant growth.

The only other thing to take into account is that forests and wetlands support higher local rainfall through interactions that we have yet to completely unravel. They also slow down water's trip to the ocean so that year-round water courses are often maintained in vegetated areas where the rainfall would suggest a flood/drought cycle.

You will need to take water courses, frost drainage, and solar aspect into account if you want to get into the fine grained local climate effects, what are referred to as micro-climates. These make major differences at the human level, in terms of where farming etc... can and does take place and thus where and what kind of settlements people make.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was just about to say something very similar myself - ocean currents, the coriolis effect and rainfall can all alter the general latitudinal bands of climate zones, giving them a more organic feel. But your answer is far better than anything I could have done, so instead I'm recommending Ahrucius gives you the big green tick. $\endgroup$
    – Jimmery
    Sep 7, 2021 at 2:33

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