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What would be the hypothetical conditions for an Earth-like planet to have tundra or taiga as dominant biomes?

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  • $\begingroup$ "Being russian" is not an accepted answer, folks. $\endgroup$ – Yassine Badache Dec 6 '17 at 16:27
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Taiga is the largest non-oceanic biome on Earth. But if you want it to be even more prevalent, take your pick:

  1. A thinner atmosphere unable to retain as much heat.

  2. An orbit closer to the outer edge of the star's habitable zone.

  3. Smaller oceans; like the thinner atmosphere it would mean less heat is retained and distributed around the globe.

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Assuming you are talking about non-oceanic biomes that is fairly simple. Just remove all the parts with wrong biome.

Basically you'd only have continents in 45° to 65° latitude in both northern and southern hemispheres. Make them old without large mountainous areas to mess things up and leave gaps to get oceanic heat transfer between the huge tropical ocean and the polar oceans.

The planet would probably need to be farther away from its star to compensate for large tropical ocean reducing albedo and for the continents being bit farther from the poles than taiga is on our world.

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  • $\begingroup$ When you say "farther in the habitable zone", do you mean closer to its star, or farther away from its star? I'm getting the impression that, as lower albedo would mean more energy is retained at identical insolation, you mean farther from its star to reduce insolation to keep the equilibrium point the same, but it's probably better if you are simply explicit in the answer. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 6 '17 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Made the edit. Thanks, it didn't occur to me it was ambiguous as the alternative does not really make sense. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Dec 6 '17 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ I figure that not everyone knows how a change in albedo would affect surface temperature. :) It's much better now. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 6 '17 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Agreed, just saying that because I did know, I was blind to the issue until you pointed it out. Pretty common human failing. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Dec 6 '17 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ Surely there is more contributing to a region being taiga than simply latitude. If you take the earth, remove everything that isn't taiga (the link in rek's answer includes a great visual) wouldn't much of what is currently taiga would end up something else. Removing continents would alter all the ocean and air currents. $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Dec 6 '17 at 15:22
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I suggest that the axial tilt should be zero. That way the long polar nights can be avoided and there is a greater area for forest.

The distance from the sun should probably be moved out a little to cool the planet down.

The oceans should be arranged more in the tropics where the rain forests and deserts currently are and extra land should be provided in the northern and southern higher latitudes.

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I've seen a lot of suggestions about orbiting the planet further away from its star and reducing the axial tilt. I'd like to point out that you also have to keep an eye out for dead horse zones (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_latitudes) and other natural phenomena that will cause barren areas, or relatively warm areas.

Also, note that like on earth, people will prefer to settle in places that are hospitable. If you have any point where the temperature is warmer, or the weather conditions are good, people will want to settle there. Tundras are harsh places, and there is a good reason why they are among the least settled parts of our world.

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    $\begingroup$ That could lead us to another area of ​​speculation and think the question from another angle: How could we build an Earth-like planet where tundra and taiga are the most hospitable biome? $\endgroup$ – Jano Moore Dec 6 '17 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ @JanoMoore If the only biomes are taiga, tundra, and ice (and maybe desert), that would do the trick. Alternatively, don't run with humans as your resident sapient species; make a fictional species that naturally prefers colder climates. Perhaps something with thick fur that is not easily shed or some other means of excessive insulation, something that makes >20C temperatures likely to cause heat stroke. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Dec 6 '17 at 17:37

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