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The Wheel of Time is set to be in place thousands of years from now, but it’s still weighed down by today’s climate change
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The Wheel of Time is set to be in place thousands of years from now, but it’s still weighed down by today’s climate change

Annotated stripes


Wheel of Time, a 14-book epic fantasy, has been turned into an Amazon Prime TV TV series. It’s a medieval-style adventure set within the Third Age of the World of the Wheel. Although the storyline is not explicit, Notes from the late authorIt seems that the First Age was actually today’s Earth. This dramatic event, perhaps even climate change, ended with an amazing event. These notes suggest that the show will take place approximately 18,000 years from now.

For climate scientists like us, this poses an interesting question: would today’s climate change still be experienced in the World of the Wheel, even after all those centuries?

Around 25% of the carbon dioxide emitted today is expected to remain in the atmosphere 18,000 years later. According to Biogeochemistry modelsCarbon dioxide levels could rise to 1,100 parts per Million (ppm) by that time. That’s compared with a present-day value of 415ppm. This high value assumes that Paris climate goals will be met and that many natural carbon stores will also be released into our atmosphere (melting permafrost for example).

However, high carbon dioxide concentrations don’t necessarily mean warmer climates. That’s because, over such a long period, slow changes in the orbit and tilt of the planet become more important. This is the Milankovitch Cycle, which lasts around 100,000 years. We are currently at the peak point of this cycle. The planet will naturally cool in the next 50,000 years. This is why scientists were Once worried about a new glacier.

But will this be sufficient to offset the warming caused by the remaining carbon dioxide in our atmosphere? The image below shows a modified version of the classic Warming stripesThe ubiquitous symbol of climate change over the past 150 years, the, was instead used over 1 million years:

Annotated stripes

Warming the Earth (and the World of the Wheel), for a million years. Today’s climate crisis will disrupt the Milankovitch cycle and its effects will last for many thousands of years.
Authors modified by Dan Lunt and al, Author provided

The 100,000 year Milankovitch cycles are clearly visible. Anything red can be deemed anthropogenic climate changes, and the Wheel of Time events fall within this period. Even the descending Milankovitch cycle won’t be enough to counteract the increased warming from carbon dioxide, and so the inhabitants of the World of the Wheel would still experience elevated temperatures from a climate crisis that occurred 18,000 years ago.

Simulating the weather in the World

However, some weather changes due to the still-elevated temperature could be offset by other influences. Those 18,000 years aren’t very long from a geological perspective, so in normal circumstances the landmasses would not change significantly. However, in this fantasy future magical channelers “broke” the world at the end of the Second Age, creating several new supercontinents.

We used analogues to determine how the climate would behave in the World of the Wheel. Model of exoplanet. This computer program simulates the weather patterns of the hypothetical future planet using fundamental principles of physics. Once we have fed in its topography, which is based on hand-drawn maps, and carbon dioxide levels, the complex computer program will be run. 830ppmBased on one of the high-potential future carbon pathways.

Our model predicts that the World of the Wheel will be warm across the entire surface with temperatures never falling below freezing, except in the mountains. This future does not offer a white Christmas. This is where science and story diverge. Sometimes snow is mentioned in The Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan, a great scientist and author, may have been a little too optimistic about the long-term consequences of climate change.

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A simulation that shows where The Wheel of Time events occur, with surface winds (white Arrows)., Author provided

The World of the Wheel would have stronger, wavier high-altitude jet streams that are stronger than the current-day Earth. This is likely due to the presence of more mountain ranges in the World of the Wheel that generate Rossby waves which cause oscillations within the jet. There is. Some evidence is limitedThe jet stream is also affected by climate change, but this is less important than the mountain ranges. The jet would bring moisture from western ocean to land and deposit it north of Mountains of Dhoom. Surprising then, that this region (The Great Blight) is so desert-like in the books – perhaps there is some magic at play to explain this.

Simulation of the World of the Wheel. It shows the jet stream (red arrows and yellow arrows), surface wind (white arrows), and cloud cover (white fog). Source:

Winds would often swirl around two mountains, Shayol Ghul (Dragonmount) and Shayol Ghul (Shayol Ghul), before blowing downslope and extending across the landmass. The Dragonmount peak is almost always surrounded with clouds. This is because the mountain is so big that the winds traveling up it force the surface moisture to higher altitudes, cooling it, and thus forming clouds.

Winds that are so different from the modern-day Earth are primarily due to topography and not climate change. The World of the Wheel reveals that even though carbon has been in the atmosphere for a very long time, the temperatures are still higher than normal.

Recognizing the extent of the effects of climate changes will continue for many years should be a catalyst to change. Even though we accept the facts, there are psychological barriers that prevent us from taking action. This is due to the fact that understanding the timescales of climate changes requires a lot of abstraction. We must ask ourselves, given the changes in extreme weather caused by climate change and how long they will continue, how would the mysterious and powerful Aes Sedai end the climate crisis?


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