Team’s shocking new finds on temperatures in cars

2015-10-09 10:41
Melanie Black (left), Emily Wortmann and Erin Ueckermann prepare to test the temperatures reached inside a car on a hot summers day at the university.

Melanie Black (left), Emily Wortmann and Erin Ueckermann prepare to test the temperatures reached inside a car on a hot summers day at the university. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - University of KwaZulu-Natal Agrometeorology students yesterday tested the second stage of their “hot car” experiment on open-windowed vehicles with staggering results. 

The second year Agrometeorology students conducting the experiment joined the project a few months ago when a Witness reporter sat locked in a hot car for an hour and 15 minutes to test how unbearable the heat must be for children and animals locked in vehicles.

Project head Emily Wortmann said that under the guidance of UKZN Agrometeorology Professor Michael Savage, they had picked up the experiment and had begun testing temperatures inside vehicles relative to positioning, outside air temperature and colour.

On Tuesday, the students found that with a 37,5 degree outside air temperature, heat inside the vehicle rose above 60 degrees.

“It took just 13 minutes to reach extreme danger levels,” said Savage.

“If that is you [inside the vehicle], you are dead.”

Wortmann said yesterday they used three cars, all different models and colours and opened the two front windows by three centimetres.

“Temperatures ranged from about 50 degrees to 43 degrees.

“What is shocking is that the temperatures spike within 10 minutes of being inside the vehicle and then stay at maximum temperature for as long as the car is closed,” she said.

She said the car that reached the highest inside temperature of 50 degrees was a white Toyota Tazz with a gold Toyota Fortuna sitting with the lowest temperature of 43 degrees.

Wortmann said next week they will be testing the temperatures inside the cars when they were in shade with “slightly cracked” windows.

Savage said yesterday that white cars are not always the coolest and smaller cars get much hotter.

“Larger cars can drop the temperature by as much as 10 to 15 degrees after an hour.

“The maximum air temperature yesterday was 30,4 degrees — cooler than Wednesday which had a temperature of 37,5 degrees,” said Savage.

Yesterday, while Pietermaritzburg reached a high of 30,4 degrees, Ulundi, Newcastle and Mooi River all had discomfort indices over 42 degrees and Ladysmith was a staggering 48,1 degrees

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  weather

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