Science-y Brainstorming Help?

Science-y brainstorming help? So, I’m about to start on what I hope will the final revision of my current SF novel (lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we’ve thought THAT before, but anyway…) — and a lot of what I want to do with this last revision is…color in the world, a bit more, if that makes sense.

Layer in more of the world’s physicality, specifically, because while I think I’ve done a decent job on the human culture, the environment is a little lacking. And partly that’s because I don’t know as much as I’d like about terraforming, even in theory.

This is what I have so far:

– a planet that is low on oxygen for humans — breathable, but borderline
– its temperature where the humans live is temperate (but I haven’t specified yet where on the planet the humans live, so they could be at the equator, or near the pole, or in between)
– it’s overall somewhat arid — producing more water is part of the terraforming process (um, how do you do that?)

– domed cities (2 of them, one big capital city, one smaller) with good human air recirculated, mixed income
– agricultural and mining and industrial settlements out in the ‘badlands,’ essentially, with that population fairly poor
– lots of terraforming work happening, at least in part through big algae production to put more oxygen in the atmosphere (which I’m assuming is a generations-long process)

– some native plants, some of which will presumably survive the changing atmosphere, and some won’t
– some native animals? But here’s where I start to get a bit fuzzy; I’ve specified almost nothing about them
– some native insects (not mentioned yet, but presumably have to be there for pollination and on the evolutionary path towards the animals?)

I think that’s it. I’d like especially to fill in more of the landscape, the insects and animals, the plants, the seasons / climate, pin down where the cities and settlements are on the planet, and there’s a lot of wiggle room there. Would love any brainstorm-y thoughts you have, even if they’re mutually contradictory. 

Science people, if we can ground this in something real, even better!

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