Streaming issues? Report here
CapeTalk logo 2017 1500 x 1500
Best of Talk
00:00 - 03:00
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: Weekend Early
See full line-up
Best of Talk
00:00 - 03:00

SA Weather Services must confirm Vioolsdrif 54°C temp, says climate scientist

2 December 2019 11:32 AM
Dr Peter Johnston, a scientist at UCT's Climate Systems Analysis Group analyses the results.

You probably saw on your social media timeline that Vioolsdrif in the Northern Cape reached a maximum temperature of 54°C last week, shattering the previous one of 50°C which has stood for almost a century.

But are those measurements reliable?

How exactly are measurements meant to be taken in order to be officially recognised?

Dr Peter Johnston, a researcher at the Climate Systems Analysis Group based at UCT chats to Kieno Kammies about the results.

Watching the temperatures rise over the last century means it is important to keep track of them, he explains.

When the records came through, it was a little worrying. We jumped up and down a bit here because we like to keep track of the temperatures.

Dr Peter Johnston, Researcher - UCT Climate Systems Analysis Group

What was worrisome was 54 degrees is way hotter than it had ever been before and temperatures don't usually get broken by so many degrees.

Dr Peter Johnston, Researcher - UCT Climate Systems Analysis Group

He says a red flag went up.

To understand the context, he explains that Vioolsdrif is the very last town one passes through before crossing over into Namibia on the national road.

Just before the river is Vioolsdrif and on the other side of the river is Noordoewer. Now, the temperature at Noordoewer at the same time was only 42 degrees.

Dr Peter Johnston, Researcher - UCT Climate Systems Analysis Group

So on one side of the river, the temperature was 42 °C and on the other 54°C. Somebody left the oven on, he jokes.

He outlines the recognised temperature measures and tools used.

While it has been freaking hot, to pick just one station and jump up and down may be a little alarmist. But having said that we would really like to hear from the Weather Service and what they have to say about its accuracy and reliability.

Dr Peter Johnston, Researcher - UCT Climate Systems Analysis Group

Weather data is extremely important in research, says Johnston.

If we not getting it right we really need to do something about it.

Dr Peter Johnston, Researcher - UCT Climate Systems Analysis Group

Listen to the interview below:


2 December 2019 11:32 AM