I have seen from various questions here (and from my research), that a Pangaea-like supercontinent would be very dry, with lots of deserts, since rainclouds couldn't travel a great distance inland.

However, I am pondering the possibility of worldbuilding a Pangaea-like supercontinent with a higher likelihood of temperate, life-favoring environments, by placing seas inland.

The most extreme example I can give is a donut-shaped supercontinent with an ocean at its center.

By bulding on this extreme example, we could gradually fill the central ocean with earth, but maintaining lots of great seas. These seas would be very large and interconnected between themselves, so that they would never dry.

For example, the Black Sea is a large sea connected with the Mediterranean Sea, which in turn is connected with the Atlantic Ocean. Multiply this phenomenum the number of times you wish, in order to create a vast network of large seas and you get the picture of what I'm getting at.

Would this produce the desired effect of creating a supercontinent with more mild climates?

Note: For this question's purposes, let's assume the majority of the landmass is located on equatorial and temperate latitudes, in an Earth-like planet.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm assuming you don't care about the long-term stability of such an arrangement? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Mar 26, 2017 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ Not much, but if you'd like to contribute something on that topic, it would still be informative to me. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2017 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ Rainclouds aren't the only way to water a world. Increase mean temp lowers sea levels and increases global humidity. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2017 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


Allow me to offer clarity to this mistaken view: Supercontinents do NOT need to be all desert.

enter image description here

What folks typically mean is that Supercontinents tend to be dryer in the middle. What that means is that, as rainclouds flow from the sea inland, they'll drop all their rain closer to the coasts. This goes true for most continents, though: in North America, forests line the coasts, and prairies and deserts are nestled in the center. In Asia, there's a desert in the middle of the continent northwards of the Himalayas. Heck, Australia is a desert surrounded by shrub forests.

The key to understanding this is geography and climate.

enter image description here

Here's a diagram of how winds work on a rotating planet (let's call it Earth, for simplicity's sake). As you can see, there are places where wind flows to and away from, due to the convection of air currents. Where winds tend to flow towards, there'll be greater chances of rain, and thus forests. Where the wind flows away, there'll be less rain, and therefore more deserts. You can see this in the simulated image of Pangea above. even though it's all one continent, there's a clear band of forests dividing the desert where the equator roughly is.

In addition, whenever rain hits a mountain face, there will be a rain shadow. The rains will all be deposited on the windward side of the mountain, whereas the opposite side will be considerably dryer. The best example of this is the Himalayas; the Monsoons of India are all bottled up by the mountains, which leaves the Gobi Desert to the north dry and barren.

enter image description here

So ultimately this is what determines your world's climate. It depends on the shape of the land, and how the winds hit it. Even if all the continents are together in one great landmass, it's rarely so simple as it seems. If you can determine where the mountains and lakes exist, then that'll determine the deserts and forests.

Hope this helps, I'd love to help more if ya need it!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OK. Thank you. Climate is really the hardest thing for me on worldbuilding... As for the purpose of this thread, let's admit this scenario: on the Pangaea simulation above, if I created a vast sea on the middle of those deserts that are on either side of the equatorial forest band, while maintaining the rest of the continent's shape, could I theoretically create a Pangaea with almost no deserts on it? $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2017 at 15:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Absolutely yes you can. :) $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2017 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Thank you. If you'd like, could you check this question I made regarding climate? worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/41646/… $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2017 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Re "in North America...", that's really an oversimplification. The eastern half of the US is pretty wet, as is a fringe along the West Coast. The deserts are in the western half, mostly due to mountains. But get north of the Canadian border, and it's pretty wet all the way across. Likewise south of the Mexican border, it's pretty dry until you get a good ways south. So as yoiu say, it has much more to do with global wind patterns & mountains than simply distance from oceans. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 26, 2017 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @PedroGabriel also don't forget that we on earth have deserts right next to oceans as well! [See most of the middle eastern coast for example] $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jan 11, 2022 at 9:45

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