Heat waves, floods: Paris increasingly threatened by climate change

The Parisians have probably not seen anything yet. In 2016, the great flood of the Seine put a stop to the circulation of the RER C, which was forced to close the Paris-Austerlitz underground station, and the damage exceeded 1 billion euros throughout the basin. In 2019, the mercury rose to 42.6 ° C in July. Then, the Covid-19 put the capital to the test like never before, shut up overnight while hospitals were overwhelmed by the sick and the dead. A year and a half later, the crisis is not over.

The worst, however, is probably yet to come. With climate change, Paris risks experiencing more and more extreme episodes, to which the capital seems very fragile. It may well be armed, the climate is changing faster. This is indicated by a voluminous study made public on Wednesday September 22 by the City of Paris. Produced by Ramboll, a Danish consulting firm, this update of an initial work carried out in 2012 shows a city increasingly threatened by heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. The general warming of the planet certainly makes Paris a little more sheltered from crises likely to be caused by snow, ice or extreme cold, but its positive effects stop there.

A “major health risk”

Urban overheating is clearly identified as the number one risk. “The symbolic milestone of 2 ° C warming compared to the pre-industrial era has now been crossed on the scale of the Parisian territory”, emphasizes the study. Despite all the commitments made by the States, there is nothing to anticipate the end of this movement. Result: instead of 14 days per year when the thermometer reaches or exceeds 30 ° C, as is the case on average today, Paris could experience 22 very hot days in 2050, and 34 days in 2085. We would count on this horizon 35 tropical nights per year, against only five at present.

In recent years, Paris has experienced many scorching episodes: 2003, 2006, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020. We must prepare for them to become recurrent, and to be amplified by the fact that the capital, because of its density, experiences a milder climate than the rest of the region – a phenomenon that professionals call the“Urban heat island”, and which is especially clear in the north of Paris.

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