The heat waves of 2022, a taste of the future

The summer of 2022 is scorching. On August 12, France had 31 days of heat wave (more than 35 degrees), already a record, even if the episode is less severe than in 2003. If these heat waves do not guarantee that a year is the hottest overall – 2022 is unlikely to enter the top 3 – they pose specific risks and are set to become increasingly frequent.

In India, March temperatures were the highest in 122 years. According to a report by the scientific consortium World Weather Attributionclimate change has made the heat wave that hit Pakistan and India 30 times more likely. ” Because of global warminghammer the researchers, these heat waves will become more frequent and hotter. »

A public health risk

Assuming an increase in average temperatures of 2 degrees, a heat wave like the one that hit southern Asia would become between 2 and 20 times more likely. Also, it would probably be 0.5 to 1.5 degrees warmer. The results of this study are probably optimistic, according to its authors.

The heat wave in India and Pakistan is all the more problematic as it is a region where many people work outdoors and air conditioning is scarce. Combined with the high population densities of large cities in these countries, heat waves can pose a public health risk.

With CO2 responsible

In Europe, it is the aging of the population that represents a danger. Especially since the nights remain hot, which prevents the body from recovering. As in India and Pakistan, “without human-generated global warming”temperatures of 40 degrees recorded in the UK in July would have been “very unlikely”says the World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

“In the future, heat waves will be the new normalsays Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the organization. We have released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that this negative trend will continue for decades. »

Météo France estimated that the summer of 2022 will look like a “average mid-century summer”unless CO emissions2 decrease drastically by then. In addition to acting on the climate, the World Weather Attribution recalls the need for public policies aimed at raising public awareness during heat waves in order to reduce mortality.

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