From the Ground Up – Biomes II

I’m just going to jump right in.

Savannah, Rainforests and Deserts this week!

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Right.

Table of Contents

Last week I went though some of the more possible climates that people would live in on a fictional world. Grassland, Taiga, Deciduous Forest. This week I’m going to go into the last three, mostly all pretty difficult to live in. we’ll work from most to least wet.

Tropical Rainforest

The tropical Rainforest, opposed to the Temperate rainforests of the north, exist only along a band of latitudes practically on the equator, an area so wet, so hot, that the land flourishes with tall trees and broad evergreen leaves. It is a fairly pleasant temperature, stabilized between 93°F and 68°F throughout the year, with precipitation, mostly in the form of rain, happening all, or nearly, year round, with a rare few places experiencing true dry spells.

Though many images of the Rainforest look packed with plant life, it is often huge, singular organisms taking up vast amounts of space. Other areas in the world actually have higher tree density per acre, but the vastness of the canopy in these forests are such that the sunlight is soaked up by the greedy, enormous plants, letting them grow to tremendous heights.

For all their ability to grow enormous plants, support a huge swath of wildlife, and constant, life giving rain, these forests are actually pretty terrible to live in and start a civilization. the constant rain and decomposition speed force many standard plant based (wood) objects to be forced to be made of stone, which is much heavier, much harder to work, and with a greater cost. Many plants, especially ones not native to the area, are unsuitable for cultivation, being over saturated rather swiftly in the soaked biome, and finally the ground can flood rather swiftly and can, in the right circumstances, be hard to settle with anything other than temporary shelters, though some have defied the odds!

Additionally, the soil of the rainforest is poor overall, requiring a shallow root set and buttressed roots (roots that grow out from the trunk higher than the ground, stabilizing the tree and allowing it to ascent to massive heights) . This is because the high humidity, rapid fungus growth and insect consumption quickly break down the organic ground litter which is then consumed swiftly by the voracious, enormous trees. This often leads to greatly damaging Clear and Burn civilizations destroying vast swaths of the forest, though it often times feels like the final and only way of saving their civilization.

 

Savannah

The Savannah is an interesting biome because there are some out there who feel that is completely artificial, one created by man burning everything he sees for thousands of years. I can’t imagine that being true, but I am open to it being a possibility.

The Savannah generally occupy a small band north and south of the equator, except in Africa where there is a massive portion of Savanna south of the Sahara desert. The climate here is generally hot, with temperatures rarely dipping below 64°F with seasonal rain and droughts. The cold of the grassland winter is absent, allowing a few trees and other non-grass plants to flourish as well as ushering in a wide array of animals to populate the area. Growing season depends on the rain, and quantity therof. If the rain is overabundant, then the growing season may be opposite, if the rain is mild, then the growing season is equal to it.

Additionally, there are few places to hide or find shelter in a savanna, most often at the edges or in small copse of trees or hills, so building and maintaining life here can be difficult. The plants, however, are wide and varied with the ability to attract and maintain massive species of herbivores as well as the carnivores that consume them. These threats are constant, as well as that of both flood and drought, hunger and disease. While the savanna is fertile enough to support some of the greatest beasts on earth, it is a dangerous and difficult place for humans and humanoids to settle.

Desert

The hottest and most unwelcome places on a planet, if you don’t count the Cold Deserts as something different and terrifying all together.

Deserts are miserable and terrible placed to live for all the most hard of humanoid creatures. It is almost completely barren, save for some scrub grasses and blasted trees. Water, the currency of life, is almost never present. Sand, both in dunes and storms, travels the landscape as if searching for something to scour.

Deserts of the hot variety, the ones you encounter most often, have wild, up to 40°F swings in temperature in a given day, with temperatures going beyond 110° at the height of Summer to below -1° at night during summer. In addition to the lack of precipitation, deserts have an extremely negative relationship with Evapotranpiration – or the amount of water leaving the surface v. coming in. Some times the amount of water leaving the system can be triple or even quadruple the quantity coming in. This means that the portion of the land is loosing more moisture than it takes in.

This poor, terrible solid combined with constant, horrible winds and frequent sandstorms have conspired against the desert to make it one of the least hospitable placed to live. Once again, though, there are few places on earth where man has not tried to live, and the amazing archaeological record of the arid and dry deserts are massive and telling.

While water is scare, it is not impossible to find. The occasional oasis will crop up, and often a small town around it, but there are times when rivers simply find their way through the generally low level basins of the deserts. While many deserts have no way out for the water that so rarely appears, these rivers have figured out the way to flow through and then out of the desert. This, often, however, earns the river a terrible reputation for fickality, as it can dry up completely in arid times and sometimes, powerfully and unexpectedly, will flood when a large storm happens down stream.

Its not a plesant place to live, but make sure to take into account, if you do, these tidbits to make the world a little more real.

Next time!

Next, we will take a look at how the continent we have is shaping up, and then move on to something everyone loves – Creatures! how to populate, use and realistically place them!