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Climate Change in Middle Earth: Supercomputer Creates Real Weather Patterns for J.R. Tolkien's Fictional World
Image via Warner Bros
Middle Earth might be a fictional place, but thanks to a powerful supercomputer at Bristol University, its weather patterns are more real than ever. Dr. Dan Lunt, an expert on past climate change, used Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkein’s famously detailed maps to make surprisingly accurate estimations of the weather Gandalf, Frodo Baggins, Aragorn, Legolas, Gollum and all the other timeless characters would have encountered during their quests throughout Middle Earth. The success of Lunt’s climate prediction model is due in part to the fact that Tolkein had the good sense to include lots of mountains in his fictional geography. The result is an accurate picture of 70 years of weather in different parts of Middle Earth.
“For a model to work, all you need is a map of where continents are, and how high the mountains are,” Lunt told The Guardian. Once he had scanned Tolkien’s map into the supercomputer, the researcher was able to conclude that “the climate around Mount Doom (where Frodo must take the evil ring of power to be destroyed) is like LA – hot, with the volcanic ash creating a similar effect to LA’s infamous smog. Meanwhile the Shire, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ peaceful neighbourhood, is most similar to Lincolnshire or Leicestershire in the UK.”
Going even further into his analysis, Lunt was able to make predictions about what types of industry would have flourished where, based on climate patterns. “Ships sailing for the Undying Lands in the west set off from the Grey Havens due to the prevailing winds in that region. Much of Middle Earth would have been covered in dense forest if the landscape had not been altered by dragons, orcs, wizards etc. Mordor had an inhospitable climate, even ignoring the effects of Sauron – hot and dry with little vegetation,” Lunt wrote under the pen name of Radagast the Brown in a mock paper on the work.
Via The Guardian
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