Overview of the possible climate and interactive visualisation of the desert planet Arrakis form the 1965 science-fiction novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert.

Within our BRIDGE research group in Bristol, we have quite a history of using models to simulate the climate of popular fantasy worlds (e.g., Middle Earth or Game of Thrones). This might sound weird intitially, but we found it is actually a great way to approach completely new audiences and to explain climate science and modelling basics to them. Nearly all current climate coverage is related to devestating extreme weather events or potential future climate emergencies, which can induce climate anxiety and stop people from reading about climate topics alltogether. So a more light-hearted, ideally related to a novel or franchise people love, can be a great way to break this doomsday news cycle.

I teamed up with Alex and Michael Farnsworth to simulate the climate of the desert planet Arrakis from the epic sci-fi series Dune by Frank Herbert. The question we tried to answer was whether humans could actually survive in the simulated climate and how it compares to Herbert’s ideas and description. Along the way, we tried to show people how a climate models work, how flexible they are and how we use them to understand past and future climate change.

I added a new interactive visualisation of the simualted climate at climatearchive.org/dune with a short animation at the top. You can read our full, easy-to-understand article about our results at The Conversation.


I think the overall concept worked really well and we engaged with a lot of people that would normally never discuss climate modelling or climate change otherwise. According to “The Conversation”’s tracking, the article was read by over 120,000 people, got translated into other languages and was picked up by several YouTube channels resulting in more than 100.000 additional views (see below). We got also invited to submit a follow-on piece about the science of sand dunes on Arrakis which is available here.

Some YouTube videos by popular channels discussing our Dune article and visualisation.