back to article Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

The weather in Middle-earth overlord Sauron's home county of Mordor is directly comparable to the balmy climate of the US city of Los Angeles, according to a British scientist. Dr Dan Lunt, an academic at Bristol University, has used his Oxbridge degree and extensive weather modelling skills to produce a simulation of the …

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Anonymous Coward

As with all Climate models

it's missing some bits of information. Middle Earth isn't the whole 'world', you've got other continents all over the planet, and each of these will have far more of an effect on the model than the burning of pipe-weed. Either that or he's assuming the planet is phenomenally tiny which would have some other odd effects on those living on it (saying that, significantly higher gravity at the surface than in the mountains could explain the relative heights of Dwarves, Hobbits, Men and the various giant things.

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Re: As with all Climate models

Exactly so. Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot rather than as anything that resembles a possible world. Its languages and legends may be carefully designed, but the world and its laws of magic are not.

Dr Lunt would be better advised to try the same analysis on Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea: in that world both the geography and the magic are much better thought out.

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Re: As with all Climate models

The background books expand of the geography of middle earth. The 'west' in middle earth (were Frodo is going on that boat) is hidden by magic so there's huge swathes of it 'missing'.

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Re: As with all Climate models

If you actually look at the paper it shows the world of the second age of Arda which was used for the simulation. Of course his main commentary is going to be on Middle Earth, as that's pretty much all people know about.

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Re: As with all Climate models

"Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot [...]"

I wouldn't be that harsh. It reflects a Medieval European world-view, where to the West you have an apparently endless ocean, and to the east endless steppes from which invaders occasionally emerge. North is a cold wasteland, and South is hot, with Oliphants and other exotics. This is just how a Medieval knight would have perceived the universe, and neither he nor Tolkien had climate modelling in mind...

I don't see how the Earthsea geography would be better defined. It seems to say nothing what lies outside the archipelago, except I think one book hints you hit the land of the dead if you go too far in one direction. How would you model the climate of that? But I agree the working of Earthsea magic is far better defined than in most fantasy books, it is almost science.

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Re: As with all Climate models

"Middle Earth has always struck me as just a set of scenes spatchcocked together as background for the plot rather than as anything that resembles a possible world."

I always find that a "Mr Logic" approach to literature is best restricted to technical manuals, since it may otherwise spoilt the enjoyment.

But if you do want to do that, Discworld may offer rather more holes to poke?

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Re: As with all Climate models

> Ursula Le Guin

Perhaps the best fantasy writer ever. Tehanu is absolutely fantastic.

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Facepalm

Re: As with all Climate models

As with all climate models...it's a work of fiction.

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JDX
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Re: As with all Climate models

Applying it to Orbitals, Rings or Spheres might be more interesting.

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@Vociferous

Really? I mean, Tehanu was enjoyable but I always thought the best of the series was A Wizard of Earthsea, followed by The Tombs of Atuan.

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Re: @Vociferous

> I mean, Tehanu was enjoyable but I always thought the best of the series was A Wizard of Earthsea, followed by The Tombs of Atuan.

Oh those are good too, but more aimed at a younger audience. The Earthsea series is a bit like the Harry Potter series in that the themes get gradually more grown up, and Tehanu has probably the best-written characters of any fantasy book I've ever read.

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Re: As with all Climate models

I repeat my request that The Reg should adopt a policy of transparency about its climate denialism.

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Re: As with all Climate models

"The core part of work at Bristol involves using state of the art climate models to simulate and understand the past climate of our Earth"....with the same FICTIONAL parameters as Tolkien. First, clima-clownologists 'simplify' the half lit, rotating sphere with a fixed, constant sunlight disc. This produces a too low calculated surface temperature to the clima-clowns then add 'back radiation' from magic gas to balance a dynamic, chaotic system that is NEVER in balance, neglecting all factors. According to the Kiehl-Trenberth balance, the Earth receives 162 watts per meter square of full spectrum solar radiation, yet partial radiated IR energy from the Earth is returned by magic gas at 334 watts per meter square. Outgoing InfraRed radiation is 'absorbed' in a narrow 14 micron band by CO2 and H2O and these three atom gases have a billionth of a second vibration before 'emitting' a longer wavelength, lower energy photon that is incapable of 'warming' the emitting Earth surface, or being 'captured' by another magic gas molecule. Carbon climate forcing models are intentional FRAUDS designed to FORCE Carbon commodity markets, taxes and controls to benefit the ruling Demonic Warlords. See more on this false paradigm science and history at the FauxScienceSlayer site. Be skeptical of over paid, under trained bobble head professors with peer pal reviews of their pet echo chamber hypothesis.

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Re: As with all Climate models

"First, clima-clownologists 'simplify' the half lit, rotating sphere with a fixed, constant sunlight disc"

No they don't, they simulate a rotating planet

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Re: As with all Climate models

"""Applying it to Orbitals, Rings or Spheres might be more interesting."""

yes and no. Banks' O and R consisted of Plates, every one of which could have its own climate. Spheres and Niven's Ringworld however would be interesting, yes. btw isn't Ringworld unstable?

and then there are Banks' shellworlds.

OT: is it Banks' or Banks's?

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Anonymous Coward

Considering the tag line

I was expecting something rather more uncomplimentary for my original home, Leicestershire

Then again coming from just within the city of Leicester and not from the gorgeous countryside that surrounds it I wouldn't argue with anything uncomplimentary either ;p

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Leicestershire?

I understood that Tolkien modelled the shire on his home county of Worcestershire. Still in the Midlands just the other side of the country. I agree with the earlier that it's unusual for Leicester or Leicestershire (the forgotten county) to ever get in the news for anything remotely positive.

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Boffin

Obviously someone who loves their work!

I think this is pretty neat really and I'm a little envious. Imagine having a job that you loved so much that you'd be happy -and allowed- to do something like this in your own time?

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Re: Obviously someone who loves their work!

That's the blessing and the curse of being a scientist: your work is so goddamn interesting that you have to make sure you don't burn yourself out by working around the clock.

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JDX
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Re: Obviously someone who loves their work!

>>Imagine having a job that you loved so much that you'd be happy to do something like this in your own time?

Like being a computer programmer you mean?

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That Vegetation Model

How does that vegetation model cope with trees that go walkabout?

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Re: That Vegetation Model

Good point that man! Especially as the press release then goes on to talk about taking tree ring samples, in order to check the models.

[insert your own joke here about sampling Treebeard's ring - Ed]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That Vegetation Model

Sounds like scientist mischief to me. They come with fire, they come with axes. Gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning. Destroyers and usurpers. Curse them!

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Dick

All it takes for serious principles and scientific processes to look crap is for one dick in academia to start refererencing Tolkin

Or worse, have any of it in Elvish or klingon.

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Re: Dick

Yeah, nerds having a bit of silly fun cheapens climate science... No, wait, it doesn't, any more than naming an asteroid Vulcan cheapened astronomy. Except perhaps in the minds of easily offended humorless anal introverts.

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Boffin

Re: Dick

All it takes for serious principles and scientific processes to look less like they're tweaked to fit a particular dataset and desired set of results is for someone in academia to apply them in a different setting, to show that they generalize plausibly.

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Re: Dick

On a second look, it also shows how well TeX generalizes beyond the fonts for which it was originally designed. Could Knuth be a reincarnation of Fëanor? (it would explain a lot.)

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Re: Dick

"""On a second look, it also shows how well TeX generalizes beyond the fonts for which it was originally designed."""

yes. and how PDF messes up accents and diacritics.

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WTF

Good to see that the huge sums we pay to fund education both in taxes and student fees are being used to fund this vital work.

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Re: WTF

So what part of "in his own time" was it you did not understand?

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Re: WTF

It may be "in his own time", but what resources did he use? I think that is the point teapot9999 was trying to make.

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Re: WTF

Maybe, but checking that your model does not go bonkers when the land masses are redistributed seems like a good idea. He could have just drawn a random map, or used xkcd's idea of the Earth on its side, but he picked Tolkien instead. Works for me.

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Re: WTF (@TheOldGuy)

I dunno, ask him, or maybe write an indignant letter to the universtiy authorities and/or the Daily Mail.

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Re: what resources did he use?

I'm going to hazard a guess at "a computer". People even have them in their homes these days. Can you imagine!

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Anonymous Coward

@ Sir Sham Cad

"what resources did he use? "

If you think that climate modelling can be done on a home computer, then you don't know much about climate modelling.

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Re: what resources did he use?

What! There's more than one per Continent!! Whatever next!!!

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Re: @ Sir Sham Cad

quote: "If you think that climate modelling can be done on a home computer, then you don't know much about climate modelling."

If you think today's home computers are less powerful than the supercomputers of 10 years ago, then you don't know much about the pace of change in hardware capabilities.

I note that the article specifially states "He scanned Tolkien's maps of Middle-earth into a supercomputer at the Advanced Centre for Research Computing" however it gives no information on the capabilities of the aforementioned supercomputer. If it only has a couple of Teslas to achieve "supercomputer" status, then it may not actually be a whole lot faster than a home rig with 2 nVidia Titan or 780 Ti GPUs in, assuming perfect parallelisation (all GPU cores in full use) for both implementations. OpenCL will allow you to do the same thing with AMD GPUs, should you prefer those to the nVidia offerings.

Any computer model can theoretically be run on any computer, although you introduce more issues (and more rewriting of code) the more you diverge from optimal specifications, e.g. running 64-bit calculations on a 16-bit CPU is possible, but a massive ballache (not to mention causing unneccesary overheads). Of course the extremes will introduce untenable delays, e.g. code running for 20 seconds on an optimal platform requiring 20 years or more on the least suitable platform, but you cannot claim it to be impossible without providing a mathematical proof that your target platform cannot process the instructions required.

tl;dr: computer models (including climate models) will run fine on home computers, just generally slower than on the expensive HPC class computers.

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Re: what resources did he use?

Do not meddle in the affairs of climate scientists, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

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What part?

The part about whose computer he ran the model on, and who paid for the computer time.

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@teapot9999

OMG, who gives a shit? So the university spent a couple of bucks on something light hearted to help validate the effectiveness of their models. Don't be such a miserable old git. Are you an accountant by trade, perhaps?

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Re: @teapot9999

> Are you an accountant by trade, perhaps?

No, he's a climate change denier desperately looking for something, anything, to criticize.

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Only one little problem

Nice to have the model - only testing it against "real world" data might prove a little tricky. Oh, and did the eruption of Mount Doom reduce the global warming caused by Saruman's industrial revolution?

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Pint

wonder what his model...

... would make of the climate of the Discworld? Plenty of maps available for that.

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Anonymous Coward

With four parameters I can fit an elephant

"By comparing our results to evidence of past climate change ... we can validate the climate models, and gain confidence in the accuracy of their predictions of future climate.”

Which predictions have significantly failed to predict the 17 odd year hiatus in Global Warming (tm), despite increasing CO2 concentration. In proper science one would say that the evidence has falsified the theory (i.e. in the words of Richard Feynman "it's wrong").

But then "Climate Science" does seem to be a bit of an oxymoron.

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Re: With four parameters I can fit an elephant

I don't think you know proper science. You certainly don't go around saying theories are "falsified" in science. That's just an asinine take on popper.

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@ NomNomNom

"I don't think you know proper science. You certainly don't go around saying theories are "falsified" in science. That's just an asinine take on popper."

Are you kidding? Do you actually know anything about Popper? Seems like you don't.

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Re: @ NomNomNom @ AC

Popper's philosphy was that to count as scientific, then a _hypothesis_ must be _falsifiable_. A hypothesis cannot be proved correct, we can only fail to disprove it.

For example, I might propose, on the basis of any, or no, evidence whatsoever, that gene X influences phenotype Y. This is still a falsifiable hypothesis, because assuming I (or anyone else) can knock out gene X we can determine whether or not phenotype Y has changed.

In this sense (and this sense only) most hypotheses about climate change are not scientific, it is not possible to perform an experiment whose result would falsify the hypothesis (e.g.) increased atmospheric CO2 will lead to an increase in global temperature (amongs many other things, we don'y have a spare planet earth to try it out on).

The same general problem applies to many other areas study (Anthropolgy, Archeaology and Astronomy all spring to mind). Whether or not we reject anything not meeting these rather stringent criteria is a matter of debate, but I find the idea a useful mental tool to asses exactly how useful a given piece of work might be.

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Re: @ NomNomNom @ AC

> Popper's philosphy was that to count as scientific, then a _hypothesis_ must be _falsifiable_.

That is a grotesque oversimplification of Popper. What he actually said was that theories must maximize their explanatory power, i.e. being as specific (and therefore falsifiable as possible) and explaining as much as possible of the available evidence. There is no requirement that the theory as a whole must be abandoned the second a contradictory piece of evidence is found: the Copernican heliocentric theory was not perfect and in fact required fudging to fit the data, but was still better than the Ptolemaic system (required less fudging == better explained the evidence == higher explanatory power).

> In this sense (and this sense only) most hypotheses about climate change are not scientific, it is not possible to perform an experiment whose result would falsify the hypothesis

Congratulations, you have just asserted that astronomy, evolution, paleontology, and every other science which cares about past events, is not science at all. After all, I can't re-run the big bang, so cosmology is not science, right?

Wrong. Science is investigation of causation; causal relationships can be inferred even when direct observation is impossible. Your definition of science is blinkered.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't think we need a spare planet Earth (Re: @ NomNomNom @ AC)

If the hypothesis is that increase in atmospheric CO2 causes increase in temperature (the Anthropogenic Global Warming Hypothesis) and temperature fails to increase (over 17 years) despite a continuing increase in CO2, then the hypothesis is falsified*.

No spare Earth needed.

*unless of course our income depends on the climate scare, in which case we might start changing the argument and saying that the heat is "hiding in the deep ocean" or some such thing (sigh).

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Re: @ NomNomNom @ AC

"That is a grotesque oversimplification of Popper."

Grotesque is a value judgement, but of course it's a simplification - what do you expect - a 4000 word dissertation complete with references ?

"There is no requirement that the theory as a whole must be abandoned the second a contradictory piece of evidence is found"

Please distinguish theory from hypothesis.

"Congratulations, you have just asserted that astronomy, evolution, paleontology, and every other science which cares about past events, is not science at all."

Please re-read the relevant para in my orginal postg.

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