Knowing what this series of articles have to offer, I’m sure you want to dive in and get into designing you world. I don’t blame you as designing a world is a lot of fun. Just for Map Making, there are 20 articles that will take you along the journey of making your world. Before we can get started, we need to go over preliminary information.
This article goes over some basics about our planet. To understand our plant helps us design our own world for our stories.
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Many people approach worldbuilding as randomly placing objects where ever they look good and giving no more thought than that. With nature, there is a logical pattern that must be followed in how our world is built and the best way to understand that is to look at our own planet.
So let’s dive right in. Earth.
There’s a lot to go over here, so let us start with basics.
1. Earth surface is 71% water.
96.5% of all water is found within the oceans. Water also exists in our atmosphere, in rivers and lakes, in glaciers, and also in soil and ground water.
2. Earth Oceans plays an important part of maintaining life on this planet, even affecting remote places in the world not connected to the ocean.
3. Places on the equator have a temperate climate all year long.
Equator is what is known as a Tropic and don’t really have seasons. So their weather tends to be the same all year long.
As we move north or south of the equator, the less temperate it becomes, and as we get to the top/bottom of the world, the colder it becomes.
4. Land closest to water tend to be the most fertile.
Lakes, rivers, wetlands, and the ocean have the most humidity thus, a lot of rainfall.
5. Places far from sources of water tend to be dry, such as Arizona, Australia, and the Gobi Desert.
There are exceptions to this, such as the Sahara Desert, that is touching the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, but is one giant desert (though history of cultures in Africa strongly suggest it was jungle at one point).
6. The further North and South we go, the greater chance of snow we see, however, going up in elevation also increases the chance of rain and snow.
7. Rivers tend start from Mountains and flow downhill, never up.
8. Rivers tend to be small. Rivers that are big generally have several Rivers combine together, such as the Mississippi River.
9. Water makes for a great heat sink. It can absorb a lot of heat. Compare Miami, Florida to Phoenix Arizona.
Miami sits on the Ocean where as Phoenix is a desert. Miami Mean Average is 83/69. Phoenix Mean Average is 87/63. The decline for Phoenix is 27% from high to low and for Miami is 17%. Might not seem that big of a difference, but considering that Miami never reaches above 90 degrees (as an average) and Phoenix can reach up to 120 degrees. However, for the low, Phoenix can reach as low as 45 whereas Miami doesn’t go below 60. For the Average High and Low, Phoenix has a decline of 63% where Miami is 33%.
What we are seeing here is that while water in the air (humidity) can deflect a lot of the heat during the day; during the night, it holds onto a lot of that heat. This is why Miami stays temperate from night and day. Phoenix has next to no humidity, and gets a full blast of heat during the day, but quickly loses its heat during the night.
10. Mountains are formed by tectonic plates often colliding with each other or scraping along side each other.
11. Plate tectonics moving away from each other can create islands.
12. Tectonic plates are the cause of earthquakes and volcanic activity, and while bad prove to be good for life on this planet, as it allows minerals from below the Earth onto the surface.
13. If mountains are too high, it can deter cloud movement over them.
14. There are a few different types of erosion.
The two most common is water and air. Water eats away at coastlines and help give rivers its shape over time. It can also create canyons, such as the Grand Canyon. Air erosion can over time give mountains its shape.
15. The moon has a gravitational pull on earth which causes tides on Earth, which in turn affects our climate and thus life on this planet.
Every year, the moon moves father away from us by about 38mm. This lengthens our day by 23 microseconds. May not seem like much, but consider 400 million years ago, there were 400 days in a year with each day lasting nearly 22 hours.
Let talk about our solar system. Now, I know what many of you are saying, that I’m writing a fantasy series, why would I care about the solar system. Unlike our sci-fi writers who might need to better understand our solar system, at one time in human history the objects found in the sky were once thought of as Gods. These “Gods” were discovered to be planets and stars. Having an understanding of planets in a solar system can play to your fictional culture trying to understand what they are, believing them to be Gods as well.
16. Earth’s position in our solar system resides in the Circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ), also known as the Goldilocks zone.
This zone is the area of space surrounding our sun that allows a planet like ours to support liquid water. If we were too close, the seas would boil and the water would evaporate. Too far, and the seas would freeze over. If the distance from the Sun to the Earth is 1 unit (called an Astronomical unit (AU)), then this zone for our solar system is between .725 AU to 3 AU. A planet in this zone would be capable of having liquid water.
17. Venus is .72 from the sun, so it is close to the border of the CHZ, but all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevent it from having water.
18. Moon, Mars, and the dwarf planet Ceres are in the CHZ, however, their atmospheric pressure are too low to create a greenhouse effect that Earth and Venus can, which is crucial for liquid water and life.
19. There are two groups of planets in our solar system; Inner and Outer.
Outer planets are larger than the Inner. In fact, 99% of the mass of the solar system orbiting the sun is in the Outer region of planets.
20. Jupiter affects the trajectory of many asteroids, preventing them from hitting Earth.
21. Asteroid belt also protect Earth from Asteroids.
Despite having Asteroid belts between Mars and Jupiter, the Kuiper Belt where we find Pluto, and the Oort Cloud, objects still get through and have hit our planet, such as the Asteroid that became our Moon and the one that killed the dinosaurs.
For this series of articles, it will assume that the solar system has a Yellow Star like our solar system, that our fictional planet is in its habitual zone, that our planet is on an axis, that the laws that govern this planet are the same as Earth.
For my fantasy writers, you will have magic that can explain things like water flowing uphill or mountains forming on their own (without the use of tectonic plates). I recommend refraining from that unless you want to spend time in your story explaining that. Note that map makers and worldbuilders will criticize any instance you break the rules like that.
For everyone, when you begin thinking of your world and where you want to see things located, start thinking about the facts you found in this article. There were a lot of details I left out that is crucial to how our planet operates. As you go through this tutorial, I will address many of those details that will help you understand that.
When we design our planet, there is an order in which we do things, start with land mass and oceans, to placement of mountains which tells us where rivers are located, to then where forests are found and where people build their homes. Everything is connected together.
I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.