17 November, 12h00, Shell Environmental and Geographical Science Bldg, Upper Campus

The University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analyses Group (CSAG) is looking for personal computer users to participate in an international project to determine how climate change is affecting South Africa’s weather.

While we know that the global climate is changing, we are still unsure of what that means to the everyday local weather in South Africa. The standard global climate models are not enough to determine this on their own, but need to be paired with regional climate models which focus in on a specific region of the planet and are capable of simulating the various weather systems that generate our weather each day.

From 17 November 2010, volunteers can log on to http://weatherathome.org to download a state-of-the-art global-regional climate model pair that will then run on their home PC. The climate model software will use each PC’s spare processing time (when the user is not actively working on the PC but still has it switched on). Over a period of a few weeks it will calculate the changing weather over southern Africa.

Once the simulation is complete, the results will be uploaded automatically to researchers at the university. By looking at the simulated weather from a large number of simulations, the researchers will be able to determine how our weather has been changing and in particular whether damaging weather events are becoming more or less frequent.

Participants can get a ringside view of the project by bringing up graphics on their PC screens that will show them how the simulation is progressing and what the simulated weather is at that particular moment.

CSAG is one of the largest climate research groups in Africa with a core focus on climate change. Professor Bruce Hewitson, the National Research Foundation Chair for Climate Change at UCT, said: “By working in conjunction with the University of Oxford, the U.K Met Office and the University of Washington, CSAG will manage the regional leg of the online experiment. For the last year we have been preparing to involve the public in downloading a program and letting it run on their home PCs, thus leveraging the computing capacity of the PCs sitting in people’s homes and offices.”

UCT researchers are often called upon to speak at global conferences on climate change. Now, through this project, individuals across South Africa can contribute in a meaningful way to the study of how our climate is changing now.

Issued by: UCT Communication and Marketing Department

Pat Lucas, Media Liaison Officer

Tel: 021 650 5428   Fax (021) 650 5628   E-mail: pat.lucas@uct.ac.za

Website: www.uct.ac.za