The drought that affected Europe this summer, and more generally the entire northern hemisphere, does not owe much to chance. According to a new study published on Wednesday, October 5 by a group of specialized scientists, the World Weather Attribution (in English), global warming has made it 3 to 20 times more likely depending on the region. Because by consuming fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas to travel, live or feed ourselves, humans warm the atmosphere of our planet and modify the characteristics of our climate.
To measure this link, the scientists used observational data and climate models. They also distinguished dryness in the soil surface (from 0 to 7 cm) and roots (0 to 100 cm). “This is the first attribution study on soil moisture, it is groundbreaking”explains climatologist Robert Vautard, one of the study’s authors. In Europe, drought became 3-4 times more likely for the soil surface and 5-6 times for the roots.
Across the Northern Hemisphere, the figures rise to 20 times more likely for roots and 5 times for the surface. “The important thing is that in all cases we found a very significant difference in the probability change”continues the man who runs the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute.
“One can confidently conclude that climate change has made this event much more likely.”Robert Vautard, climatologist, author of the study.
These results are not a surprise. Drought is one of the risks identified for Europe by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report (in English). As France is experiencing at the moment, it causes losses in agricultural yields, difficulties in the supply of drinking water and favors forest fires.
And that is just the beginning. “We need to get rid of fossil fuels if we want to stabilize the climate and prevent these drought episodes from getting worse, which will become more frequent and intense with each additional degree of warming.”recalls the Swiss climatologist Sonia Seneviratne, one of the authors of the study, in a press release.
The climate has warmed 1.1°C since the beginning of the industrial age. For the moment, the commitments assumed in the framework of the Paris agreement lead us, if they are respected, to a global rise of 2.7°C, well above the objectives set by the signatories.