KT Cooper is a PhD student in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. A carbonate geochemist by training, she has just returned from a three-month secondment to Houston, Texas, USA working with Exxon Mobil.
In December last year there was a lot of buzz around J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy land Middle Earth, and I am not just talking the second instalment of The Hobbit franchise. Taking a break from racing his rabbits about Anduin, Radagast the Brown (otherwise known as Dr Dan Lunt, University of Bristol) got involved in some of the climate modelling that is happening here at the University of Bristol and prepared a very interesting article for Journal Hobbitlore on The Climate of Middle Earth. Just adding a new feather to his hat!
The paper suggests that the Shire has a climate similar to that of Lincolnshire and Leicestershire in the UK, which would account for the green lusciousness of the Hobbit Holes, and that Mordor is very dry and ‘subtropical’, a bit like Los Angeles or western Texas. This may go some way to explaining the dryness of the Orc’s skin!
Radagast’s paper also describes climate model simulation results from Modern Earth and Dinosaur Earth (Late Cretaceous) time periods. It then details the importance of climate sensitivity in the context of current global warming and explains the role of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
As a non-climate scientist, this was a really useful insight into state-of-the-art climate modelling via a lighthearted example. Well worth a read, especially in Elvish or even Dwarfish! But as with most things, I prefer both my science and my fantasy worlds in cake form.