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Fire ‘likely’ in Mediterranean as temperatures soar

Forest fires are now more likely in the Mediterranean region due to climate conditions, experts have said, as fire destroys 1,500 hectares in Corsica and temperatures soar across the south of France.

26 February 2019
Forest fires have destroyed thousands of hectares in Corsica this week
By Connexion journalist

In Corsica, 48 wildfires have been counted since February 23. Some have not yet been brought under control, especially in the Haute-Corse.

Now, climatologist Robert Vautard has said that the fires are linked to changing climate conditions and global warming in the Mediterranean area, which make such incidents more likely.

Global warming can cause a range of unusual effects, he said, such as wildfires and drought in the middle of winter, or snow in spring.

Mr Vautard, director of research at the CNRS climate and environment department and at climate science research lab l’Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, said: “In the Mediterranean, climate conditions are more and more favourable towards wildfires.

“Wildfires are linked to two factors. Climate and weather, and human activity; how we behave. One of the causes [of the fires] is climate change.

“We often say that global warming will hit hard in the Mediterranean; we are already seeing that, with droughts and heat waves such as those seen in 2017. This will continue.”

Mr Vautard is also helping to prepare a report on the subject, due for publication in 2021, with the climate expert government group, the GIEC (Groupe d'experts Intergouvernemental sur l'Evolution du Climat).


Rising temperatures have also been linked to a spike in pollen counts and pollution.

In the Bouches-du-Rhône, the threshold for fine pollution particles has been breached this week as temperatures have risen, with the air quality “deteriorating” as a result, department authorities said.

The departments of the Var and the Vaucluse are also at risk, according to air quality monitoring agency AtmoSud.

There has also been a “red” pollen alert for 11 departments in the south of the country, with rising temperatures making certain pollens more irritating for those with allergies.

In total, air monitoring network the RNSA has issued 29 departments with a pollen alert, ranging from “red” - the most severe - descending to orange, yellow, and green.

Older and younger people, pregnant women, and those with asthma, breathing or heart problems may also want to avoid busy or grassy areas, and exercising outside.

They are advised to continue with their usual asthma or allergy treatment plan, and seek medical advice if symptoms worsen.

The full list of departments on red pollen alert is:

Alpes-Maritimes, Aude, Aveyron, Bouches-du-Rhône, Gard, Hérault, Lozère, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Var and Vaucluse.

The full list of departments on orange pollen alert is:

Ardèche, Ariège, Cantal, Corrèze, Drôme, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Vienne, Isère, Landes, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Rhône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, and Tarn-et-Garonne.

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