Extreme weather events are all over the news in recent years, with intense floodings in Asia, fires raging through Australia, and record heatwaves melting the asphalt in Western-Europe. We are all starting to feel the impact of the changing climate in every aspect of our lives.
In Flanders, increasing summer drought brings the effects of climate change into our homes and gardens, as summer heatwaves dry out the lawns, put restrictions on the water use and endanger the health of the elderly. Yes, indeed: despite the countless cliches about Flanders’ endless rain and grey skies, the region can be counted among the most water-limited and drought-sensitive areas in Europe.
While these recent summer droughts highlight the vulnerability of Flanders and its gardens to weather extremes, they also emphasize something else: gardens and parks can play an important yet underappreciated role in the water management during extreme events in Flanders. And, perhaps even more important: they bring the climate issues literally to people’s doorsteps, creating the perfect opportunity for an awareness campaign about climate adaptation and the issues related to intense summer droughts.
And that is exactly what we are setting out to do. Thanks to support from the Flemish government, we are rolling out an ambitious citizen science project that combines sensitization about climate issues with a unique scientific dataset about the impact of weather extremes. To that end, we will establish a network of thousands of ‘garden thermometers’, miniature weather stations that will monitor the temperature and humidity of gardens across the region.
So, please stay tuned for ‘CurieuzeNeuzen duikt onder’ de ambitious follow-up of the citizen science project that made the Flemish people aware of the air quality in their streets. Now, it is the climate that is in our crosshairs, but together we will take it down: all together towards more climate-resilient gardens for the future.