Coping with a 2.3 °C temperature increase


While other countries are worrying about a temperature increase of a couple tenth of a degree, our tiny country is coping with a 2.3 °C since the pre-industrial period. You saw that right. 2.3 °C. Almost triple the average global temperature increase. If global warming is staying with us, who knows what it will brings us.

Temperature anomaly since the pre-industrial period

Temperature anomaly since the pre-industrial period. Source: VMM

It was clearly stated in the article Climate Change in Belgium in 10 graphs (in Dutch) in MO magazine. It was used to show how we, Belgians, already feel the results of Climate Change. Their 2nd graph said it all: “Already 2.3 °C warmer than in the 19th century”. We are measuring temperature since 1833 and since that time we increased our temperature that much.

Where are the WWF, BBL and Greenpeace to inform our leaders that we should drastically reform our agriculture and society in the wake of these unprecedented temperatures?

I can report on the damage done to our country until now by this unprecedented temperature increase over such a short period. 😉 When looking out of the window I can’t see scorched earth yet. That comes maybe later? No hurricanes that are devastating the country. The invasion of relentless heat waves didn’t materialize either. Neither did droughts. Also still in the pipeline probably? We still have cold waves so now and then and snow isn’t a thing of the past yet. Pensioners still leave their beloved country to live in the South of France or Spain. They don’t go there because it is nicely cool down there. Farmers still work on their fields, planting the same old, boring crops. They are still harvesting wheat, asparagus, endives, apples,… as usual. They still don’t do manioc. Or sweet potatoes. Grapes growing outside still don’t have that wine quality by far and tomatoes grown outside the greenhouse still suck big time. Yuck.

That 2.3 °C extra is probably not entirely true. That ever increasing graph shown in MO magazine might be dramatic, but I have seen this graph before, but somewhat differently. Like this for example:

Temperature record of Uccle

Evolution of the average temperatures in Uccle. Source: KMI

That is how our KMI (“Royal Meteorological Institute” or RMI in English) sees this increase. In the graph we see the real temperatures as being measured, not the anomaly against a previous period. It is similar to the graph in MO, but RMI add some trend lines for clarity. Apparently it is not one big steady increase as it was suggested in the first graph, but there are two distinct step changes, followed by a plateau. One step change around 1910 and one at the end of the 1980s. Apparently something happened there and it is not a change in the measurements. It is surely not the hallmark of CO2 either. Or is it? CO2, as a magical gas, is there anything it can’t do?

Another clue is in the link that was provided with the doom-graph. It links to the MIRA environment report. In it a bit more nuance. At the end they state that, maybe, just maybe, it is possible that Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) could something have to do with that.

Sounds obvious. Although the instruments are sited according to regulation, it is in the close neighborhood of Brussels. In a village that had only a couple farmers in the 19th century and is now grown to the size of a small city. Well, the people from MIRA are looking into it and will come with a report at the end of this year.

This is not the first study in this regard. There were others like for example Van Weverberg, K, De Ridder, K, Van Rompaey, A in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (2008) and Rafiq Hamdi (RMI) Estimating Urban Heat Island Effects on the Temperature Series of Uccle (Brussels, Belgium) Using Remote Sensing Data and a Land Surface Scheme in Remote Sensing (2010). They came to (substantial) effects. “0.15 °C per decade” or “45% of the overall warming trend is attributed to intensifying urban heat island effects rather than to changes in local/regional climate”.

That the RMI did their own research and came to the conclusion that there were UHI effects, was a bit surprising to me. As far as I know, they always claimed that there was no UHI effect (because Uccle is situated in southern direction and the prevailing wind comes from the other side)…

Maybe our influence on temperature is much lower than we think it is.

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