Across Europe, temperatures in June and July were the second hottest in European history. Italy’s heatwave saw a record high temperature of 48.8C. Fires broke out in Greece, Italy and even the French Var region.
But France, particularly in the north of the country, has experienced particularly drizzly, cool and miserable weather over the past few months.
According to figures released by Météo France on Tuesday, this has been the coldest and dampest summer on record since 2014.
Compared to last year, there was an average increase of 23 percent in rainfall across the country – this figure climbed to 40 percent in the northern half of the France which saw extensive flooding over the summer along with Germany and Belgium. The report describes a ‘deficit’ of sunshine across various parts of the country in July and August, contributing to below average temperatures.
— Le Parisien | infographies (@leparisieninfog) August 31, 2021
This weather, says the report, was caused by the absence of the so-called Azores High – an anti-cyclone. Typically, this high-pressure anti-cyclone drifts across the Atlantic Ocean in a north-easterly direction every summer, bringing warm temperatures with it. For much of this summer, it moved in the opposite direction.
But from a historical perspective, this year’s weather was not out of the ordinary.
As a result of climate change, heatwaves have become increasingly common in France and across the world, in what has become the ‘new normal’.
In an interview with Le Parisien, meteorologist Cyrille Duchesne said: “It is because we are used to it [hot temperatures] that we think this summer has been worse. However, this is the 15th hottest summer since 1900.”
At the launch of the latest report from Météo France, climate scientist Matthieu Sorel warned that cooler summer temperatures this year should not lull us into a false sense of security with regards to climate change.
“This summer has been like a respite in the series of summers that we have experienced since 2015,” he said. “We are unlikely to relive it again because the effects of climate change will lead to summer periods that are hotter and dryer year on year.”