Game of Thrones climate and weather: Defining the world

A series on the weather and climate of the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ world

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Defining the ASOIAF world

There are disparate seasonal variations between summer and winter in ASOIAF (probably due to magical influences), but much of the climate and weather is quite familiar to here on Earth. And this is unsurprising. In fact, George RR Martin has been quoted as saying that his story takes place on a round (or more accurately, an oblate spheroid) planet not too dissimilar from our own world, if not just a bit larger. According to the ‘Atlas of Ice and Fire’ blog, which has crunched the numbers, the planet ASOIAF is set on is approximately 8% larger than our own.

Courtesy of Atlas of Ice and Fire blog

Some facts and comparisons: Westeros vs. Earth

Agreeing that the GOT world is mostly* like Earth (*besides magic), here are some general facts about Westeros to make it more relatable:

  • Lands beyond the wall are presumed to go all the way (or nearly) to the north pole, similar to the North American continent. (George RR Martin has also said that the Lands of Always Winter are similar in area to Canada.)
  • In total, Westeros’ land mass is estimated at approximately 5,000 miles from southern Dorne to the North Pole, assuming a similar-sized planet to Earth. For comparison: South America is 4,443mi long.
  • It is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, with Dorne bordering the tropics at approximately 23.5°N and the Wall not quite within the arctic at approximately 62°N. For comparison: Miami, FL, USA is 25°N and Helsinki, Finland is 60°N.
  • Sunspear is near the theoretical Tropic of Cancer (~23.5°N), Hardhome is near the theoretical Arctic Circle (~66°N).
  • King’s Landing is at about 35°N, which is a similar latitude to the Mediterranean Sea, North African coast and central California (Los Angeles = 34°N, Malta = 35°N).
  • Winterfell is at about 55°N, similar to Edinburgh and Moscow.
  • Much of the continent experiences a westerly weather pattern most of the time, with the exceptions of the south (Dorne, parts of The Reach) and the far north (beyond The Wall).
  • This might look broadly similar to that of Western Europe or North America, with some distinct differences (i.e. Westeros, unlike Western Europe, is connected to the north pole via land, and thus has more influence from very cold, very dry, continental polar and arctic air masses. And Westeros isn’t nearly as wide as North America, thus such air masses will struggle to push as far south).
  • The south is likely affected by subtropical high pressure, and potentially tropical cyclones (low pressure) from the Summer Sea.
  • The north is likely affected by polar high pressure surging southwards from the arctic, as well as a meandering polar jet stream guiding surface lows from west to east.
  • The presence of the Sunset Sea to the west, the Summer Sea to the South, and the long, narrow, nature of the continent all have a significant influence on weather patterns and overall climate.
  • The relatively close proximity of Essos to the east also plays a role.
Courtesy of HBO

Bermudian-American journalist based in London 🇧🇲🇺🇸 Formerly @TheEconomist 🖋 weather + climate stan 🌎

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store