On top of the world

Last night brought extreme weather conditions to Belgium. After a hot summer day, hailstorms swept over the country, dropping hail stones of several centimeters.  Hailstones and pingpong ball

The storm resulted in a lot of economical, agricultural and natural damage, although it lasted not longer than fifteen minutes. Those fifteen minutes were however enough for the hailstones to perforate windows and greenhouses and many other unprotected things all over the country.

Hailstones in grass

Such hail storms provide a good example of temporal variation in microclimate. I have been focussing on its spatial counterpart, which gives different climate over a distance of a few centimeters or meters. But it is not only on a spatial scale that we can see deviations from the average climate. Over time, extreme weather conditions may happen, that may differ a lot from the average Those extremes, like hail storms, long heat waves or large floodings, may be much more limiting for plant growth than the average climate ever will.

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