New research concludes that the intense droughts that occurred in Western Europe during the summer of 2022 were indeed caused in large part by global warming, which is, in turn, directly related to human activity.
It is a scientific consensus now well established that the climate crisis is directly linked to human activity. And this is as much the case for emissions of CO2 or methane as for the destruction of biodiversity.
New research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and co-directed by France's CNRS highlights the problem in an even more specific way by shedding light on drought episodes.
"The role of anthropogenic climate change in aggravating drought events has often been raised in the public debate, but this link has not been studied until now," the study authors explain.
Using meteorological records, the researchers compared the weather conditions of several periods. In particular, they compared drought episodes that occurred before the climate crisis (1836-1915) and after (1942-2021).
The authors of the study are categorical: human activity aggravates prolonged drought episodes, such as the one that affected Western Europe and the Mediterranean region in 2022.
"The 2022 drought was associated with a persistent anticyclonic anomaly over Western Europe. The 1942-2021 circulation analogues generally have more extensive and intense anticyclonic anomalies that cause higher surface temperatures than those of 1836-1915.
"These features exacerbate drought by increasing the area affected and intensifying soil drying through evapotranspiration," the researchers explain in a news release posted on the CNRS website.
This is further evidence of the impact of human activity on the planet, highlighting the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Since January 21, France has recorded a series of 31 consecutive days without rain (cumulative rainfall aggregated over France of less than 1mm). Something "never before seen in winter" according to Météo-France.
"This situation results in a drying out of soils, already weakened by the drought of summer 2022," warns the country's official weather service.
The last record of this kind observed in France dates back more than 30 years, during the winter of 1989, when there were 22 days without rain. – AFP Relaxnews