Heatwaves in France more frequent due to climate change

As France swelters in temperatures of 35-40°C and a red heatwave warning continues for 15 departments, weather experts have confirmed that heatwaves are becoming more frequent due to global warming.

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At the time of writing, forecaster Météo France has maintained a red heatwave warning - the highest and most-severe level - for 15 departments in the north of the country, and an orange warning - just one level lower - for 49 other departments nationwide.

Temperatures are forecast to remain in the high-20s and mid-to-high 30s well into next week, with heat-related thunderstorms also expected for much of the north, and south east on Monday (August 10).

Drought conditions have also worsened over the past two weeks, with water restrictions in place in 72 departments.

Read more: France on heatwave alert and water limits as drought worsens

This weekend, weather experts have confirmed that heatwaves (“canicules”) are becoming more and more frequent in France.

A “canicule” is defined by a period of three days and nights of hot temperatures without respite even overnight - with the temperature threshold used depending on the average of the region.

Between the years 1983 and 2015, there were just three official heatwave episodes.

Since then, there have been several, and sometimes more than one per year.

Christophe Cassou, researcher at the climate laboratory at national research centre le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), confirmed to news service FranceInfo: “We can confirm with great certainty that the increased frequency of heatwaves is directly linked to global warming caused by human activity.”

Several climate experts concur, saying that the frequency of heatwaves is likely to continue to increase over the next 20 years if nothing changes. If there is a drop in greenhouse gases by then, however, we could see a levelling off and stabilisation of the phenomenon.

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