Tolkien-obsessed New Zealand fans will be pleased to learn
they don't have to travel too far to experience the kind of
weather inhabitants of Hobbiton would enjoy.
Dunedin's climate has been found to match that of the famous
Shire in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books.
Not such good news for the Australians, however, as the hot
and dry conditions of Alice Springs were deemed similar to
that of Mordor, where evil overlord Sauron dwells, according
to a UK climate scientist who has developed a weather model
of Middle Earth.
Dr Dan Lunt, a climate lecturer at Bristol University,
created the simulation by feeding detailed maps of the
fictional country drawn up by author JRR Tolkien into the
Penned under the name The Wizard Radagast the Brown, the
paper is littered with Tolkien references, and is also
available in elvish and dwarvish languages.
He found Dunedin was among the places with a weather pattern
most like the beloved Shire hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins
leave behind on their adventures.
"[It] might be considered the ideal location to film a motion
picture based in the Shire..." the paper notes.
Speaking from his home in the UK, Dr Lunt, 37, said director
Sir Peter Jackson may have got his locations wrong while
filming his LOTR and Hobbit trilogies.
"Obviously the films have been filmed in New Zealand, and we
found that was quite appropriate," he said. "Although I
gathered that probably a lot was filmed in the North Island,
in particular the bits that were supposed to be where the
hobbits live, like The Shire, but according to our model they
would have been much better to film it in the South Island."
The model found the easterly winds in the north of Middle
Earth "may explain why ships sailing to the Undying lands to
the West tended to set sail from the Grey Havens".
And, similar to our own earth, its population has been
responsible for deforestation.
"Much of Middle Earth would have been covered in dense forest
if the landscape had not been altered by dragons, orcs,
wizards etc," it claims.
He noted "this is consistent with reports I have heard from
Elrond that squirrels could once travel from the region of
the Shire all the way to Isengard".
Dr Lunt said his main motivation was to create a "fun and
interesting" way to engage people in discussions about
"The Lord of the Rings and The hobbit are very popular,
there's a huge community of people out there of people who
are really interested in the books and the films, and it was
a way of trying to grab the attention of those sorts of
people and in some ways to communicate to them about climate
science," he said.
"We thought some of them might actually read the article that
we wrote where we talk about the future climate of the earth
and how we predict it, the strengths and weaknesses, that
sort of thing, and also to inform them about how you can use
past climate change to understand the future."
The paper had received "quite a lot of interest" in the
British media and social media, he said, but added: "No-one's
complained that I've got anything wrong yet, which is what I
thought might happen. Maybe that will happen tomorrow."
Meanwhile, the largest private collection of Lord of the
Rings film memorabilia went under the hammer in Los Angeles
this weekend. It saw punters bidding more than $US100,000
over the asking price for the battle axe used by John
Rhys-Davies' Gimli the Dwarf. It sold for $US180,000
Frodo's sword Sting sold for $US156,000 ($188,307), around
$US36,000 over the estimate, while the sword used by Viggo
Mortensen's character Aragorn sold for $US62,500 ($75,470).
• The paper can be found here
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ