In this post I will be talking about all the different climates you might want to include in your world and how they all fit together, some info on each and the kinds of animals and challenges faced to live there. Many people are happy to place climates as they like, but you might want to keep the world as realistic as possible, at least in terms of environment.
If you’ve followed my working out climates tutorial you’ll recognise this table.
|Desert||Hot||Hot||Dry (Low)||Dry (Low)||0 – 30|
|Semi- Arid Desert||Hot||Hot||Wet (High)||Dry (Low)||0 – 15
|Tropical||Hot||Hot||Wet (High)||Wet (High)||0-20|
|Savannah||Hot||Warm||Wet (High)||Long and Dry (Low)||15 – 30
Between Tropical and semi-Desert
|Steppe||Warm||Cold||Low||Dry (Low)||30 – 60|
|Temperate Grassland||Warm to Mild||Cold||Moderate (High)||Low (Low)||20 – 65|
|Temperate Forest||Warm to Mild||Cold||Moderate (High)||Low (Low)||20 – 65|
|Taiga||Cold||Very Cold||Moderate (High)||Dry (Low)||50 – 70|
|Tundra||Cold||Very Cold||Low||Dry (Low)||60 – 80|
|Icecap||Very Cold||Very Cold||Low||Dry (Low)||75+|
Of course there are variations within each climate but these are the main ones. It might seem obvious, but don’t place a hot climate next to a cold climate, consider the temperature changes.. Bridge a desert and temperate climate with savannah, for example.
Tropical climates are hot and wet with heavy rains and are found near the equator. Tropical climates usually only have two seasons, wet and dry, which can vary in length depending on location.. Temperature variation is often minimal with a high amount of sunlight. This level of sunlight and plentiful rainfall is ideal conditions for plant life, which can in turn support plentiful animal life. Tropical plants tend to be rich in natural resources.
Animals and humans living there have to be adapted to be able to deal with the heat. Many do this by sleeping all day and being active during twilight hours or at night to avoid peak heat. Some burrow underground as its much cooler, some are simply able to withstand higher temperatures, and if so you’ll be unlikely to see these elsewhere.
Savanna environments are dominated by grassland and scattered trees due to the low rainfall. They are usually warm all year round, but long and dry winters make life difficult. Water becomes scarce and wildfires are common, often caused by lightning striking the ground and igniting the dry grasses. Pockets of trees are often found near streams or ponds.
Many animals living in the savanna are herbivours due to the abundance of grasses. During the dry winter months, the lack of water often drives the herds to migrate to other areas in search of water.
Savannah animal are often fast, herbivores move in herds and packs of predators hunt in groups using speed, stealth and tactics. Endurance is a trait that is common here.
Anywhere where vegetation is scarce would be considered a desert, hot or cold. Rain is often light or infrequent and can evaporate quicker than it can fall. Sometimes even before it hits the ground!
Any plants have adapted to survive will be experts at finding and storing water, often with shallow, widely spread roots and thick leaves to store any water it does manage to find.
Many animals that live in the desert are cold blooded and any mammals are often small. It is very hard to survive in a hot desert and cold deserts can support even less animals. If possible many animals will live near the coast, or any other water source for access to fish and so on.
Hot and dry all year round, these environments can support little life and only the bravest would cross. Life will be concentrated around rivers and oasis.
Semi-arid deserts are cooler than hot dry deserts and are often more humid. If they are near the coasts, fog could blow in. Rainfall would be more than a dry desert, but not enough to support widespread vegetation. They are generally found around the fringes of arid deserts, as the biomes merge from one to the other. Some might experience short rainy seasons, which support some vegetation, but not enough to become a savanna. Plants an animals are often quite similar to arid deserts.
A steppe is a dry grassy plain, found in temperate climates, which are found between polar and tropical regions. Steppe’s are considered semi-arid as they have a low amount of rainfall, just enough to sustain short grasses, but not enough for tall grass or trees to grow.
Communities that live here are often heavily reliant on horses for travel, trade and conquest. The steppes themselves are ideal routes for travel and trade due to the flat open terrain.
Temperate grasslands are large open areas of grassland, similar to the Steppe, but with more rainfall. Charictarised by low growing vegetation on acidic soils, which leads to a lack of larger vegetation (ie would otherwise grow into a temperate forest).
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This biome receives a lot of rainfall all year round, with mild to warm summers and cold winters. Animals that live here are adapted to cope with warm summers and cold winters, some hibernate or migrate to avoid the cold, others have adaptions such as thick winter coats.
Taiga lies between temperate forests and tundra and as such are the forests of the colder regions. The ground can often contain permafrost all year round. Along with rock, this can stop water from draining away and can create shallow bogs, which can look like solid ground but are actually wet and spongey.
The forests are thick and have adapted to survive long cold dark winters and short summers. A wide range of animals live in the taiga, all will have adapted to the cold. Birds will often migrate to warmer climates for winter, but other animals live here all year round.
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Tundra ia cold harsh enviroment with a distinct lack of trees due to permafrost and high winds. Combined with a lack of rainfall, this leads to low-level of vegetation. For much of the year the area is cold and frozen, with a short warmer growing season. Alpine tundra would be found at a very high elevation where nightime temperatures fall below freezing.
Any animals will be well adapted to make use of the short growing season and often build up large fat stores to sustain and insulate them throughout the long winters. They often have thick coats and many migrate or hibernate.
Icecap / Polar Region
(AKA cold deserts) These are the regions of the world covered in a sheet of ice for most of the year and are some of the harshes regions of them all, yet life still finds a way. Any plants and animals that live here will have adapted to the long, cold, dark winters and will take advantage of the short, productive summers. Many animals will be migratory. Most soil will be covered in ice most of the time and any soil that is exposed is often low in nutrients.