Sciencing at home

With all the social distancing across the world keeping us all at home, a lot of our fieldwork is being delayed. And that’s a bummer, as we just received a beautiful batch of ‘daggers’ to measure microclimate, and had fantastic plans with them for important science.

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Our favourite scientific toy: the TOMST TMS4-logger, a pretty dagger that measures temperature and soil moisture

We are not letting this virus take us down, though. Many of our plans are flexible, as fieldwork is all about adapting to the unexpected anyway. But of course we don’t want these good loggers sit there idle in their boxes, do we? So I kindly asked my wife if she would mind a bunch of mushrooms in her garden, and set to work.

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Spreading the loggers through my garden to measure microclimatic variability in a suburban setting. Fences, houses, shrubs and concrete will all affect the local conditions. And we are here to find out how much!

I distributed 10 of these loggers through the garden; front and back, middle and side, next to the fence and in the middle of the lawn. All to see how much variability in microclimate there is within such a garden.

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This serves as a little, local trial for our big citizen science project that we are frantically preparing in the background, in which we hope to get 5000 gardens in Flanders equiped with these loggers, to get the biggest and most detailed dataset ever of garden resilience against extreme climatic events. With an unseen joint effort by the whole community, we hope to measure how droughts and heatwaves are felt in gardens, from cities to rural areas, from the smallest city lawn till the largest golf courses.

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This little piece of sand at the southern side of our house, right against the wall, should give logger readings several degrees warmer than those in the rest of the garden

We hope things stabilise sufficiently in the coming weeks so we can at least roll out the real trial for the project over summer. Until then, we are full on sciencing at home!

Will hopefully be continued soon!

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