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Europe is suffocating in the heat

The drought is more marked every day across Europe, to the Netherlands which has officially decreed a “water shortage” while France and Spain are facing a new heat wave.

France and Spain faced their third heat wave on Wednesday since June, while the drought is more marked every day across Europe, to the Netherlands which officially decreed a “water shortage”. France faced Wednesday the hottest day of its third heat wave recorded since June with temperatures of up to 40°C. “We are worried (about) these close repetitions of heat waves”who “do not allow organisms to return to normal functioning”, explained Isabelle Bonmarin of Public Health France (SPF). “We expect excess mortality as soon as we go into a heat wave (…) and in particular those aged 75 and over”added his colleague Robin Lagarrigue, indicating that a “Assessment will be made in September”.

Soil drought

In the city centers, it is the rush on the water: “We sell 100 bottles a day, against 20 usually, while the Lyonnais are on vacation!”, says an employee of the Le Viste newsstand, opposite Place Bellecour. The prefect of Haute-Corse, for his part, called on Tuesday in a tweet the citizens to reduce their water consumption because “at this rate (…) given the expected weather changes, there will be no more water in 25 days!”. On various fronts of forest fires, in Haute-Corse as in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the situation was stabilized. Similarly, TER and TGV train traffic, interrupted Tuesday afternoon in the Landes due to a fire, the fire having been fixed. This heat only reinforces the dryness.

The extension of periods without rain threatens certain crops and forces the imposition of water restrictions, France being one of the European countries most exposed to the risk of drought. “I saw my olive blossoms burn”deplores Jean Berneau, 64, an olive grower in Lagorce, in the south-west of the country, who after extracting two tonnes of oil from his olives in 2021, does not expect to produce more than 400 liters this year. . “It could be dramatic…”. This heat only reinforces the drought, as July 2022 is the second driest month of all months and the driest July on record.

In Gérardmer, (Vosges), the flow of the springs is so low that, since Wednesday, the town has been supplying its public water network with water from the lake. Result: the water will be declared non-potable, a priori for 48 hours, the time to carry out bacteriological tests. It’s not a first, but it’s never happened “right away”, Mayor Stessy Speissman is alarmed. Another consequence of the heat wave: EDF has announced possible “restrictions” of production at its Tricastin nuclear power plant (Drôme), due to “high temperature forecasts on the Rhône”, whose water is used to cool the reactors. Alert also on the Rhine, where the boats must be lightened by a third due to “depression problems”, warned Waterways of France. Nearly 600 km of canals are also closed, particularly in the Grand Est and Burgundy, affecting boating activities.

“Water scarcity” in the Netherlands

France is not the only one to suffer, it is all of Europe that is affected. After a short truce at the end of July, Spain was again on alert on Wednesday with temperatures expected to exceed 40°C in several southern provinces, after reaching 43.3°C on Tuesday in Talavera de la Reina, in the province central Toledo. This “likely third heat wave” will last until at least Thursday, spokesman for the Spanish meteorological agency (AEMET), Ruben del Campo, told AFP. “There is no doubt that climate change is behind it” the repetition of this phenomenon, he judges. Tropical nights, where temperatures do not drop below 20°C, are expected in several areas of eastern and southern Spain, thanks to high Mediterranean temperatures of between 3 and 4° C above normal, according to the AEMET.

The Netherlands also decreed on Wednesday a “water shortage” official due to drought. “The Netherlands is a land of water, but here too our water is precious”said Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Mark Harbers. The country is protected from water by a famous system of dams, dykes and canals but with around a third of its area below sea level, it remains particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the UK, July was the driest since 1935 in England and even the driest on record in the South. England is now in a state of “prolonged dry weather”, the stage before the drought, which implies the first precautionary measures. Several water companies have announced restrictions affecting millions of people.

Suddenly, the threat of forest fires is permanent, after the devastating fires of July in the south-west of France, in Spain, in Portugal or in Greece. A major forest fire broke out on July 24 in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park on the border between the Czech Republic and Germany, where heat records were broken (36.4C). A thousand hectares have already been affected. On Monday, firefighters hoped the blaze could be brought under control within days. Poland, it recorded very low levels of rivers. In several regions, restrictions have been put in place regarding the use of water, particularly in gardens. Drought and heat wave are “the manifestation of global warming, today nobody left” born the “challenges”explained on Wednesday the French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher. “The 2020 climate can be forgotten, and the 2022 climate may be the coolest of the years to come”.


SEE ALSO – Drought in Paris: Anne Souyris details the measures put in place by the City

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