Middle Earth is one of the most well-known worlds in fantasy. It’s the setting of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but what would its climate actually look like?
Researchers at the University of Bristol have put together a climate model of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world that is similar to the one used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to simulate the real world.
The results show that The Shire, home of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo, would have a very similar climate to Lincolnshire and Leicestershire in the UK.
The hellscape of Mordor, on the other hand, would be much similar to the landscape around Los Angeles and Western Texas.
Villages in Lincolnshire are said to have a very similar environment to The Shire.
West Texas, an environment that shows what Mordor would be like in the real world.
The scientists even went to the extent of publishing the paper under the pen name Radagast the Brown, a “middle earth wizard who was probably earths first scientist”.
Professor Richard Pancost, Director of the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol said: “Because climate models are based on fundamental scientific processes, they are able not only to simulate the climate of the modern Earth, but can also be easily adapted to simulate any planet, real or imagined, so long as the underlying continental positions and heights, and ocean depths are known.”
Dr Dan Lunt added: “This work is a bit of fun, but it does have a serious side.
“A core part of our work here in Bristol involves using state-of-the-art climate models to simulate and understand the past climate of our Earth.
“By comparing our results to evidence of past climate change, for example from tree rings, ice cores, and ancient fossils of plants and animals, we can validate the climate models, and gain confidence in the accuracy of their predictions of future climate.”
Computer models of the climate allow us to analyse the atmosphere, land and ocean, as well as provide a forecast for the future state of the planet.
Given the precarious situation of planet earth, climate models are very important for creating better future planning to help combat the climate crisis.
By changing the arrangement of features, the rotation rate, radius of the planet and the density of atmosphere the climate can be simulated for both the real and imaginary worlds.
The scientists at the university embarked on The Lord of the Rings project to demonstrate the flexibility of climate models, as well as to discuss their strengths and limitations.
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Professor Rich Pancost has been lecturing at the University of Bristol since 2000, and in 2013 became director of the Cabot Institute. The institute seeks to bring together world-class experts in an attempt to help solve the climate crisis.
Arthur is a journalism student at The University of Sheffield. As well as being a founding member of BLOT, he has also written for Forge Press, Sheff Central and One2Football. His hobbies include climbing, going to gigs and of course, reading.
Favourite genres: Magical Realism and Historical Fiction.