Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime uses longest-range weather forecast ever thanks to Bristol expert
A climate and weather expert from the University of Bristol has just completed his most difficult challenge yet – predicting what the weather will be like in May and June – in 18,000 years.
Professor Dann Mitchell, professor of climatology at the university and co-chair of the Met Office of the Climate Hazards group, led a team of experts to determine the weather in the television series Wheel of Time, which is reaching its climax. season finale tonight – Christmas Eve.
The Amazon Prime series took the epic 14-pound fantasy series, set in the distant future, and adapted it for a hit TV series, with echoes of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
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And while the fictional world maps created by American author Robert Jordan differ from today’s coastline – it’s not entirely incredible – Britain only became an island about 7,000 years ago. .
So Professor Mitchell and his team came up with the Amazon Prime TV show, which takes place in what Robert Jordan describes as the Third Age of the Wheel World, set around 18,000 years in the future.
“While not explicit in the script, the late author’s notes suggest that the first age was in fact modern day Earth, which ended in a dramatic event (possibly even climate change). )”, did he declare. “From these notes, we estimate that the show will take place in approximately 18,000 years from today. For climatologists like us, this poses an interesting question: would today’s climate change still be experienced in the world of the wheel, even after all these centuries? ” he added.
Professor Mitchell’s team mapped the evolution of human-made climate change through carbon dioxide levels, and added it to natural climate cycles over such a long period of time.
They found that about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted today will remain in the atmosphere even 18,000 years from now – and may be even higher than today.
“But high concentrations of carbon dioxide do not necessarily mean a warmer climate,” said Professor Mitchell. “This is because, over such a long period of time, the slow changes in the orbit and tilt of the planet become more important.
“This is called the Milankovich cycle and each cycle lasts about 100,000 years. Since we are currently at the peak of such a cycle, the planet will naturally cool over the next 50,000 years and c that’s why scientists once worried about a new ice age.
So what would the climate be like here in 18,000 years? Professor Mitchell said it would be much warmer – with no chance of a White Christmas – and much windier.
“To find out how the climate would work in the wheel world, we used an exoplanet model,” he said.
“This complex computer program uses fundamental principles of physics to simulate weather conditions on the hypothetical future planet, once we have fed its topography based on hand-drawn world maps, and carbon dioxide levels of 830 ppm based on one of the potential future high carbon pathways.
“According to our model, the world of the wheel would be hot over the entire surface, the temperatures on the ground never being cold enough for snow, except in the mountains. No chance of a white Christmas in this future.
“Here, history and science diverge, because sometimes snow is mentioned in the Wheel of Time. The long-term effects of climate change may have exceeded the imagination of its author, the late great Robert Jordan, ”he added.
But the main difference would be how blustery the future will be.
“The fact that the winds are so different from Earth today is mainly due to the topography, not the underlying temperature rise due to climate change,” he said.
“Nevertheless, in the World of the Wheel, it is clear that despite the extremely long time since carbon has polluted the atmosphere, the inhabitants are still exposed to warmer temperatures than usual.
“Recognizing how long the effects of climate change will persist should be a catalyst for change. Yet even after accepting the facts, we face psychological barriers to further personal action, not least because understanding the timescales of climate change requires a considerable degree of abstraction, ”he added.
Professor Mitchell said they undertook the exercise to try and connect with viewers on climate change.
“Our study is intended to reach an audience outside of traditional scientific networks.” he said.
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“Looking at the problem of climate change in the context of the hugely popular world of the Wheel of Time adds a different level of accessibility to the way we understand climate.
“The residence times of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are extremely long. For every four tonnes of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere today, one tonne will remain for 20 millennia. This is the legacy we leave to our ancestors in the future.
“Our climate models are based on fundamental physics, so with enough information about a planet, we can model it. It’s amazing to see a world as famous as Wheel of Time come to life with the help of these tools. For example, the katabatic winds over the larger mountains, or the swirling jets that bring us so many winter storms, ”he added.
The report’s co-author, Dr Rebecca Atkinson of the University of Sussex, explained why they did it.
“We face significant psychological barriers to translating climate knowledge into climate action, not least due to the difficulty in understanding the long-term impacts of climate change – our ability to understand the passage of time begins to fail over time periods. longer, ”she said. .
“Pro-environmental behaviors can be hampered by the multifaceted psychological threats that accompany cognitive processing of climate change information.
“Thinking about the long-term impacts of climate change in the context of an imaginary realm could allow people to engage in climate change in a less psychologically threatening way,” she added.
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