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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Can anyone explain the dissonance between ME geography and climate?

Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Nov 29 2019, 12:09am

Post #1 of 10 (1705 views)
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Can anyone explain the dissonance between ME geography and climate? Can't Post

Like, for example, how Mirkwood's vegetation indicates humid, and yet it's behind the Misty Mountain range's rain shadow? Not only that, but it's also behind the mountains of Gondor, which precludes any humidity coming from the south, and the Grey Mountains preventing any moisture coming from the north, etc.

I would assume the Mordor "box shape" has a magical element to it courtesy of Sauron, so I'll ignore that one. I'll also ignore that the Sea of Rhun is clearly fed by the River Running, even though there's no mention of hills in between (I would guess just a gradual enough slope over the grasslands).

Another anomaly would be the fact that (names elude me-patience I am really really sick today) some of the rivers don't run in the direction they should, given the topography of the land. And why would poisonous fumes in Mordor bear mentioning, if it clearly doesn't seem to make our heroes deathly ill?

And lastly, why on earth would Tol Morwen and the other one whose name eludes me be still above water, when Turgon's Gondolin mountains were significantly taller than them? Makes me wonder if one could literally sled all the way across Beleriand without stopping...
Anyway, just some random musings from a "dying" person (as in, I feel like I am but I'm not-I loathe severe respiratory viruses Pirate)

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squire
Half-elven


Nov 29 2019, 1:01am

Post #2 of 10 (1677 views)
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One simple word in the English language: fantasy [In reply to] Can't Post

As you point out, Tolkien's geography makes little to no sense in 'real world' terms on a continental scale.

The only answer I've ever given myself is that he created a geography that serves the story, rather than fit his story to an existing geography. Mountains and rivers are barriers to be gotten across, or to separate hostile kingdoms, not the functions of plate tectonics, erosion, and watershed geophysics. Forests and wastelands are mysterious places to contrast with settled realms of agriculture and commerce, not natural biomes dependent on soil, latitiude, altitude, and wind patterns. Villages, towns, and cities are places for adventurers to vary their adventures from the wild to the treacherous, not economic and social conjunctions tied to land ownership and rational patterns of manufacture and trade.

Why is this so confusing? Obviously, Tolkien dresses his fantastic sites and settings in romantically realistic clothing. Mirkwood feels like a temperate forest; the Misty Mountains feel alpine through and through; Bree is a lively and interesting town. On a more scholarly level, we see Tolkien congratulate himself for drawing his map first, and writing his adventures to fit the map, thus implying that his map was carefully thought out - a claim that is seriously weakened by a close reading of his drafts and rough maps. But pull away from wood, ridge, and town, put them on a map, and start asking elementary questions from Geography 101, and watch them fall apart - as you just did!



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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Nov 29 2019, 1:21am

Post #3 of 10 (1674 views)
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Mirkwood and the Sea of Rhun [In reply to] Can't Post

Mirkwood Forest seems to receive water from run-off from both the Grey Mountains and the Mountains of Mirkwood. I assume that also includes underground sources. The River Running would also provide some water.

The Sea of Rhn would seem to be a remnant of the vast Inland sea of Helcar. You've noted that the Sea of Rhn is fed by the River Running (and the Red River that merges with it). It would also receive run-off from the mountains on its western shore. There would probably be lesser rivers feeding in from the Ash Mountains and from the east. These hypothetical rivers do appear in some maps of Middle-earth such as ones produced by Weta (which depict the Mountains of the East as near enough to be the source of such rivers).

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 29 2019, 1:24am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Nov 29 2019, 3:20pm

Post #4 of 10 (1641 views)
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squire and Otaku-sempai'sreplies are Two good answers from different RR traditions [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry to hear that you are ill, Cirashala - I hope you're better soon.

I notice that the two great replies you have already come from different RR traditions. Squire's comes from the tradition of viewing Tolkien as literature, and arrives at an answer based on Tolkien's working practices, and the limitations there must be in imagining a fantasy world. Otaku-sempai's reply comes from our other prominent tradition, which is the game of imagining Middle-earth as if it were a real place, now lost. The author is a minimal figure in this game, and so Otaku-sempai has tried to infer plausible realistic answers.

How about this for a further way of playing that game? Tolkien describes himself in TH and LOTR as the translator of the Red Book of Westmarch (which he has somehow obtained, and also soehow neglected to deposit at the University of Oxford Bodlean Library, so that it can be independently studied). Very well then. Is the map part of the Red Book? And if so, was it drawn by someone with personal experience of (or access to good reliable scale maps of the whole area)? Or did Tolkien reconstruct this very modern-looking map from the available sources, such as textual descriptions or more medieval -style maps. Either way, maybe it's almost inevitable that the reconstructed map Tolkien provided contains some errors. Now of course if only the Tolkien foundtion would release the Red Book and other sources (Wink ) then someone else could have a go.

I'm not sure if that helps at all, but at least I had some fun thinking about it!

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Nov 29 2019, 5:57pm

Post #5 of 10 (1618 views)
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These are great summations [In reply to] Can't Post

On an unrelated note, noWizardme, I absolutely love your signature line! Laugh I never noticed it before and I think that would be an hilarious prank! Those poor dwarves Tongue I imagine it's in good company with the likes of headlight fluid and elbow grease!

Another possibility that I have considered is that the mountains, since in the lore they were risen by Morgoth to further his evil plots, wouldn't have to follow real word tectonic activity in order to be positioned the way they were. And humid forest climates could be explained by, as was mentioned, underground water systems/high water tables, and quite possibly soil that's heavy clay (which doesn't drain well at all-I feel somewhat embarrassed that I didn't think of that as I'm a farmer-in-training and have been gardening for years Crazy). That would explain why Mirkwood has trees and other flora that require a fair amount of water even though it is in a rain shadow area.
It is fun to speculate on such things Smile

I think the most plausible answer is that Tolkien just stunk at geography Tongue He's in good company with movie Thranduil and movie Legolas LOL AngelicWink

But it would be curious to find out what sorts of weather the various areas of ME could have had in the four seasons (IF they had all 4. In some areas I'm sure it was more wet/dry seasons than all 4 meteorological ones).

Any meteorologists on here who could chime in?

My writing and novels:

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My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


noWizardme
Half-elven


Nov 29 2019, 7:04pm

Post #6 of 10 (1612 views)
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Karen Fonstead imagines Mirkwood as being on limestone [In reply to] Can't Post

If it helps at all, Karen Fonstead (Atlas of Middle-earth) imagines that Mirkwood is on limestone. That explains the elves' underground city with it's subterranean river, she says. She also infers that continental glaciation is a likely explanation for the bogs and marshes, gently undulating land, 'shingles' near the lakes and the lakes themselves.

If the Misty Mountains are limestone, or another porus rock (like some of the Alps) perhaps that would lessen the rain-shadow effect? I'm imagining that rain falling on the mountains might find its way underground and emerge in Mirkwood to keep the forest wet. Or maybe that's geologically preposterous -I'd kinda like to know if anyone can tell me.
Cool

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Nov 29 2019, 7:09pm

Post #7 of 10 (1612 views)
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That is a really good explanation! [In reply to] Can't Post

I too would like to know if TORn has any meteorologists or geologists on here who can chime in Smile

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Dec 2 2019, 12:55am

Post #8 of 10 (1333 views)
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We did once: "Calling DanielLB"! :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



CMackintosh
The Shire

Jan 1, 7:22am

Post #9 of 10 (315 views)
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FWVLIW [In reply to] Can't Post

I did raise a related question:Middle Earth Geology
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=962773;sb=post_time;so=DESC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;guest=243092734

and was referred to :
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=934264#934264

It is frustrating. I do know that mountain ranges cast a rainshadows, and can only agree that the only way to get around that is to have the mountain ranges made of largely porous stone. Mind you, that would make the Dwarves' job in delving Khazad-Dum that much easier: limestone's a lot easier to work than granite ... Smile


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Jan 2, 5:10pm

Post #10 of 10 (262 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

There might be an issue with the mountain stone's composition though- wouldn't it also erode more easily if it were limestone instead of granite?

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!

 
 

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