December 10, 2013
Forecasting The Weather For JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Thinking about joining Bilbo Baggins on his journey to the Lonely Mountain this weekend? If you are, a scientist from Bristol University in the UK has made it easy for you to dress for the weather.British climate scientist Dan Lunt, under the pseudonym Radagast the Brown, has recently released a mock research paper detailing computer simulations for the climate of Middle Earth – the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his epic adventures, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
"The climate of Middle Earth has a similar distribution to that of Western Europe and North Africa," the report said.
The Shire, where both epic adventures began, is said to have a climate similar to the counties in the eastern UK. While Mordor, the hellish site of the final climatic scene in The Lord of the Rings, has a climate similar to western Texas or Los Angeles, according to the computer simulations.
To reach these conclusions, Lunt said he took Tolkien’s detailed maps of the landscape of Middle Earth and fed them into the Advanced Computing Research Center’s supercomputer at Bristol University, according to The Guardian. For the mock paper, Lunt had the computer produce a 70-year model.
"For a model to work, all you need is a map of where continents are, and how high the mountains are," Lunt said.
The UK scientist, and obvious Tolkien fan, even suggested that acclaimed director Peter Jackson chose the wrong New Zealand location when shooting scenes set in The Shire for both epic series.
"They made a mistake by filming in the north island – they should've filmed in the south island," Lunt said.
The paper also suggested that the Misty Mountains cast a "rain shadow" to the east, meaning the peaks in the range are so high – they prevent prevailing winds from carrying moisture to the east.
"It can be seen that there are strong westerly (i.e. coming from the west, towards the east) winds in the coastal southern regions of Middle Earth, in particular in the Bay of Belfalas," the paper said.
"Conversely, there are easterly winds in the north of Middle Earth,” the paper continued. “This may explain why ships sailing to the Undying lands to the West tended to set sail from the Grey Havens, situated in the region of these easterly winds."
While the mock paper may seem silly or even a waste of time to some, Lunt said his work isn’t without real scientific value.
"The serious side is that the climate models I used, and those (other models) out there, are actually based on our fundamental understanding of science, of fluid mechanics, fluid motion, the science of convection in clouds, radiation from the sun, and the science of biology,” Lunt wrote as his alter-ego Radagast the Brown. “And because of that, they're not just tuned for the modern earth, they can simulate any climate."