Thursday, July 17, 2014

Libria gazetteer: Libria IV

Libria IV is a world not much different from Terra in size and composition, but it's plate tectonics are weaker and over aeons this has led to a much shallower topography. Combined with a hydrosphere containing 20% more water, the planet is technically an ocean world with over 90% of the surface consisting of open water. The rest is made up of islands and one small continental landmass in the northern hemisphere.

Being so much wetter than Terra, and with similar solar insolation (though peaking at a lower wavelength since Librius is a K0 main sequence compared to the Terran sun's G2V), Libria III has a similar average air temperature at the surface - around 14C. However because the world is so dominated by its oceans, the atmosphere is well mixed, and there are no ice caps. The tropics are cooler than would be expected, and the planet's jet streams are particularly strong. This in turn drives large baroclinic storms, three or four times the size of those on Terra, which can affect vast swathes of the planet with wind and rain. Waves are driven higher and higher as there is little land mass to damp them down, and typically the oceans on Libria II have wave heights greater than 100m, with enormous wavelengths.

The planet's economy is centered around the vast bounty of the world's oceans. Unlike Betor, which was famous for its fish, the vast oceans of Libria IV are full of plant life, which is harvested and turned into a nutritious ingredient which forms the basic carbohydrate used in much of the system's diet. Enormous vessels, many over ten kilometres in length, patrol the oceans trawling for Chelp, the most common free floating seaweed and the easiest to harvest. The main continent of Graevos is studded with large offloading installations, where the Chelp is processed, boxed and shipped to the nearest space port. These settlements are usually built into the rock, and have high plascreet walls protecting them from the ferocious waves.

Life on Libria IV usually centres around Chelp harvesting, and most of the 88 million live in the cities along the coast of Graevos. The weather is usually cloudy and wet, a day without rain is rare, and the wind is constant. The coastal region is a bleak place, grey, wet, windy and constantly washed in spray. You have to go many miles inland to find freshwater plants, and the low hills of the coastal region where most people live are barren of trees, covered in tussock grass and home to many species of bird, most introduced by the early settlers.

The capital, Porthaven, is actually over three hundred kilometres inland from the coast, but is connected to the coastal installations by railway. Trains on these routes are large, often three stories, and the track gauge is wide. Vast amounts of freight and passengers is moved in this way between Porthaven and the ports themselves. Porthaven sits to the north east of the Spine, a long chain of low mountains which run from the north west to south east of Graevos, separating the ports from the hinterland. The hinterland, on which Porthaven was built, is a large inland plain. Shielded by the Spine it receives more than double the sunlight and less than a third of the rainfall compared with the western slopes, and is also the warmest place on Libria IV. It is far more desirable to live here than on the coast, and the planet's rich and important citizens live in the city, which gives the average visitor to the world the impression of a paradise world. In fact only 5 million live in this beautiful environment, the rest live out their lives working in the coastal cities, often never visiting the paradise in the hinterlands.

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