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'Game of Thrones' study looks at dragons and global warming

Dragon-caused global warming. White Walkers hibernating in summer. Serious science meets fantasy in a climate study on the world of "Game of Thrones."

John Bradley appears as Samwell Tarly on HBO's "Game of Thrones" series.

HBO

Maester-candidate Samwell Tarly is a bright young researcher eager to show his deep understanding of the climate of their unusual world. It's a place where winters are long and dragon emissions can contribute to global warming. He released his findings today in a study called "The Climate of the world of Game of Thrones" (PDF link).

This isn't quite a case of fiction becoming real life. 

A group of researchers published a semi-serious mock journal article attributed to Tarly, a studious character from "Game of Thrones." The team of scientists behind the work actually hails from the UK Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton rather than The Citadel in Westeros. 

The study gives us a climate model for the realm of Westeros and beyond. The simulations, carried out by a supercomputer at the University of Bristol, suggest the icy region of The Wall has a winter climate akin to Lapland while Casterly Rock, the Lannister's digs, has a climate like that of Houston, Texas. 

The simulations can give us a look at everything from winds to the global warming that could occur if there was an increase in dragon activity and an overuse of wildfire, a deadly burning substance used as a weapon. This sort of climate change could result in the sea level rising to engulf parts of King's Landing.

There is a serious science side to all this fictional fun. 

"Because climate models are based on fundamental scientific processes, they are able not only to simulate the climate of the modern Earth, but can also be easily adapted to simulate any planet, real or imagined, so long as the underlying continental positions and heights, and ocean depths are known," said University of Bristol climate science professor Dan Lunt.

The researchers also released the paper in Dothraki (PDF link) and High Valyrian (PDF link), but those versions are actually gibberish generated using dwarvish and and elvish fonts from the "Lord of the Rings" series. They still look cool.

The paper is a treat for both science fans and "Game of Thrones" fans. You can delve into its thoughts on the tilt of the planet and how that impacts its seasons, how the climate helps the Iron Fleet dominate the seas and where the White Walkers would need to hibernate during the summer.

Fans can follow @ClimateSamwell on Twitter to see more results from the climate simulations and suggest new avenues of study using the models.

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