06 September, 2012

The Walkabout World: Part 3

To see the earlier parts of this series...
Click here for Part 1: Geotectonics
Click here for Part 2: Weather

A focus on the general patterns of vegetation across the tilted world.

Leaving all the mountains and waterways intact, a few simple steps can be taken to identify typical ecologies across the tilted world of the Walkabout setting.

Starting with a blank vegetation that has rough black lines indicating the locations of prominent mountain ranges (and keeping the lines representing the dominant direction of atmospheric conditions due to global wind cells), we get a map roughly like this.


It really doesn't say a lot about the vegetation of the planet but it provides a good guideline for the calculation of ecological conditions. This isn't 100% accurate since the mountains aren't specific, and micro-cells can cause radically different weather conditions to those that might normally be expected. We can get into specifics in a later post.

The first and most obvious ecology across the globe is the icy tundra of the polar regions. At the south, this means that islands such as Hawaii will now have a climate roughly equivalent to Iceland in our world (a frozen waste only really habitable due to geothermal hotsprings and fertile volcanic soil). At the north, the landscape is an expanse of frozen tundra like the far northern coast of Siberia in our world. The easiest way to calculate the extent of the icy tundra would be to extend it as far as you would find in our world. The mountains on the new north coast of Africa make a nice barrier here, and split the icy waste into frozen desert to the utmost north and grassy tundra just south.


The next easiest ecology to place is the desert. For this we can do a comparison of distance from major bodies of water, while referencing the presence of mountain ranges and winds. For example, in our world the inland plains of Chile aren't far from the sea, but the Andes blocked them from the wind; this leaves them a desert while on the other side of the mountains, there is lush rainforest a great distance from the sea.

In the Walkabout world, there would naturally be effects like this. Strangely the interaction of mountain ranges and wind patterns leaves a lot of desert regions just as sparse and desolate as they are in our world. The Gobi Desert in Central Asia remains a long distance from the sea, and locked on two sides by mountain ranges; the Sahara still sits in a situation where winds don't sweep humid air across the plains; the regions known as Afghanistan and Pakistan in our world remain in a dry wind shielded realm.

One of the biggest changes lies along the Andes, where the new southern side now becomes battered by moisture laden winds, while the new shielded northern side finds moisture hard to access (combined with the deforestation of the Amazon, it doesn't take much for this part of the world to degenerate into desert and wasteland). The deserts of former north-western Australia are now inundated with moisture laden winds, and the deserts disappear from the out parts of the continent, only remaining desolate in the dry centre. Central North America bounded by the Appalachians and the Rockies also starts to dry up now that wind conditions don't bring favourable moisture laden air from the gulf of Mexico.


Forests and heavily fertile lands work off a pattern exactly opposite the forces that create deserts. Where mountain ranges prevent clouds from passing, water is forced downward as rain. Areas with warm water and favourable winds have a tendency to generate clouds that sweep inland, providing ecological paradises.

The Kalahari desert of Africa retreats as the Congo stretches its jungle realm across more of the continent. The pampas plains of Argentina sprout into lush verdant forests. Coastal Europe becomes engulfed in tropical jungle. The most dramatic change lies on the thawed continent of Antarctica, where prehistoric frozen seed-pods have sprouted into long forgotten ferns and coniferous trees, fighting for nutrients with flowering seedlings blown across from South America and Australia.

The coniferous forests of western Canada and Alaska spread down the former west coast of North America, there would still be desert pockets in locations such as Death Valley, but this is just a general overview of the changes, and the chilled moist air would generally render this part of the world more suited to the ecosystems currently seen in the farthest northern reaches of that continent.


Grasslands and fertile farmland fill the gaps between the deserts and the forests. As long as moist wind flows through the air and is capable of depositing it's lifegiving rains somewhere across the region, then that region becomes a viable locations for new civilizations to arise. 

Former deserts on the Arabian peninsula now become wet with regular rainfall. Parts of the former Amazon rainforest retain their fertility through regular rain, but the deforestation of the past and the heavy use of industrial chemicals prevents the forest coming back at its full rate. The new northern parts of Australia see a lot more rain sweeping across the ancient land. The mountains of Antarctica channel rain bearing winds through the central part of the continent in a way similar to that of the Rockies and Appalachians in our world's North America.

Northern Canada sees less cold; as the permafrost gradually thaws, great plain of grass pocketed with forest spread across the landscape. The same holds true for the former Siberia. In these two lands, are some of the greatest potential for growth as a planet.


Less fertile plains fill the remainder of the world including the former lands of southern and eastern Europe (Italy, Spain, Macedonia). Those areas of South America that haven't been rendered completely inhospitable provide a meagre existence for their survivors, the same holds true for most of the regions once known as central Canadian or United States. 


Putting the whole map together, we get a vegetation pattern something like this.


A clearer and more refined version of this map will be generated soon.

Next Post...The fall of man and the rise of the dead zones.
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