Three heatwaves since June produced France’s second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Meteo France weather service said Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common.
With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3 degrees Celsius (4.1 Fahrenheit) above normal for the period of 1991-2020.
It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.
Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to climate change, with Meteo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.
By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.
The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres).
Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961.
“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.
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