by Tim Storer
Given the constantly fluctuating nature of weather both seasonally and annually, it is often difficult for scientists to show or describe long-term climate changes in a succinct manner. Even if one accepts the hypothesis that humans can have no major effects on global climate change, it is still useful to study climate patterns for predictive purposes. Certain studies have shown how various climate extremes such as rainfall and temperature are expected to increase in future decades, and others have shown overall warming of the planet. In South Africa, there have been strong trends showing heightened extremes of both the lowest and highest temperatures in all stations studied, though the degree of this amplification varied by location (Kruger and Sekele 2013). This has implications for both the wild ecosystems in South Africa and the human populations. Uncharacteristically high or low temperatures can easily catch humans (and other species) off guard, and it is useful to help predict and prepare for these conditions.
Kruger, A. C. and Sekele, S. S., 2013. Trends in extreme temperature indices in South Africa: 1962–2009. Int. J. Climatol. 33, 661–676. http://goo.gl/VFQ82G