At 2.3°C above normal for the 1991-2020 period, it is the second hottest summer (June-July-August in meteorology) in mainland France since the start of measurements in 1900. , announced Météo France on Tuesday.

It was only surpassed by the summer of 2003 (2.7°C above normal), but the year of the great heat wave is often considered a “weather UFO”.

Now, the effects of global warming are increasingly felt: of the last eight summers, six are in the “top 10”.

“A foreshadowing” of the future, underlined Samuel Morin, director of the National Center for Meteorological Research of Météo France, presenting this report. Around 2050, “it is expected that about half of the summers will be of a comparable or even higher temperature level”. And this, even if the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming are contained.

As in recent months, the consequences are dramatic: devastating fires including in areas hitherto spared, widespread droughts and amplification of sometimes deadly weather phenomena, storms or floods.

The first episode of heat wave hit in June, the earliest ever seen in the country, followed by two others of 14 days each in July and August. A total duration of 33 days, unheard of.

“A long, trying, difficult summer,” summed up Matthieu Sorel, climatologist at Météo France.

As a result, records fell by the shovel, with 87 maximum temperatures exceeded locally, smashing many records in the West and on the Atlantic coast, often by several degrees.

But also 86 minimum temperature records, with many “tropical nights”, when the mercury does not drop below 20 degrees, damaging the organisms, deprived of recovery. Nice has just had its 61st tropical night in a row!

The absolute daytime record, 43°C, was for Arcachon (far from 46°C in June 2019 in Vérargues in Hérault), but the thermometer soared to the Opal Coast, with 39, 9°C in Le Touquet on July 19.

– Mega Fire –

Combined with the lack of rain, the heat favored the drought that affects almost the entire country and made the vegetation particularly flammable. Result, a black season of forest fires with 62,000 hectares ravaged since the beginning of the year, against an average of 8,500 at the same time, according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).

The country has experienced unusual fires, such as that of Landiras, in the south of the Gironde, a “mega-fire” which burned more than 20,000 hectares twice and over a period of one month. And fires even in places that we did not imagine exposed, such as the mythical Breton forest of Brocéliande.

Another victim of the drought, the agricultural world, with certain harvests expected to decline (-18% for corn, -20% for potatoes), leading the government to release aid.

Public opinion was also marked by impressive stormy episodes which killed five people in Corsica on August 18. If such exceptional weather phenomena are not directly attributable to climate change, it makes them “more and more frequent, severe and intense”, recalls Samuel Morin.

As a result, between the repeated heat waves and the energy crisis, the climate issue was invited into the political debate at the start of the school year, the executive calling in particular for “sobriety”.

“The summer we have just spent is a powerful wake-up call,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne launched on Monday, a few days after President Emmanuel Macron estimated that the country was facing a “big seesaw”. .

But the left opposition, like environmental NGOs, accuses the executive of not doing enough.