The headlines in Belgium – and indeed in neighbouring countries – have been full the last few days of news of the heatwave. Record temperatures, water restrictions, implications for climate change and so on. But there are some aspects of the heatwave which may have received less attention. Here are some of them.
The heat affects animals at the zoo as well as humans, and keepers at Antwerp Zoo have been preparing ice-lollies for their animals: flavoured with herrings for the penguins, and peppers for the apes.
Home-owners have been advised not to worry if their lawns turns brown: the grass is only sleeping, it is not dead. Grass goes into a sort of hibernation when water is short, but can quickly re-establish itself when conditions change.
Not only on land are temperatures at record levels: the water of the North Sea reached 22.87 degrees last week, the highest temperature in 20 years, according to the Flemish Institute for the Sea. Scientists expect water temperatures to increase by up to 3.2 degrees by 2020.
The high temperatures are a blessing for the Belgian wine industry, as the sun helps develop sugar in the grapes which then turns into alcohol. The temperatures follow a series of strokes of luck: a wet spring which irrigated the soil, a mild period afterwards which allowed the blossoms to develop, a lack of frost, and now warm temperatures, explained wine journalist Alain Bloeykens.
A campaign by the Brussels homeless persons’ agency Samusocial to find a new supplier of water bottles for the homeless in warmer times has been a success, raising not only more than 25,000 bottles of water, 1,000 portable canteens and almost 10,000 in donations.