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France and parts of England experience the driest July on record

#France #parts #England #experience #driest #July #record

France and parts of England experienced their driest July on record, the countries’ weather authorities said on Monday, compounding extensive water resources that have led to restrictions on both sides of the Channel.

In France, where an intense drought has ravaged farmers and led to widespread restrictions on freshwater use, there was just 9.7 millimeters (0.38 inches) of rain last month, Meteo France said.

That was 84 percent less than July between 1991 and 2022, making it the second driest month since March 1961, the agency added.

Meanwhile, much of southern and eastern England saw its lowest rainfall on record in July, according to Britain’s Met Office.

The whole of England recorded an average of 23.1mm of rain – the lowest figure for the month since 1935 and the seventh-lowest July total on record, it said.

The Met Office has been compiling records since 1836.

The low rainfall in both countries was coupled with a summer of unprecedentedly high temperatures, which last month topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time in England.

Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that carbon emissions from humans burning fossil fuels are heating the planet and increasing the risk and severity of droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events.

An analysis by an international team of researchers published last Friday found that climate change caused by human activity has made Britain’s recent record-breaking heatwave at least 10 times more likely.

– ‘vicious circle’ –

Water companies on both sides of the English Channel are struggling to respond to the parched conditions.

Almost all of France’s 96 mainland regions have imposed water use restrictions, also a record.

The country is bracing for its third heatwave this summer, beginning Monday in the southeast before heading north toward Paris.

Farmers across the country are reporting difficulties feeding livestock due to parched grasslands, while irrigation has been banned in large areas in the northwest and southeast due to freshwater shortages.

On the eastern Rhine, which runs along the Franco-German border, merchant ships have to sail at a third of their deadweight to avoid hitting the bottom because of the low water level.

Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said July’s rains accounted for “only 12 percent of what is needed”.

“We have a heat wave that increases demand (for water) and a drought that limits availability and pushes us into this vicious circle,” Bechu said during a visit to the hard-hit Isere department in the south-east of BFM television.

In England, a water supplier has so far announced restrictions.

Southern Water, which is responsible for supplying part of south-central England, will impose restrictions on its nearly one million customers from the end of this week.

But the so-called hosepipe ban could soon be emulated by other providers after the UK government’s Environment Agency warned people need to use water ‘wisely’.

Most of England has moved into prolonged dry weather status, the agency said last week.

This means precautionary measures are now being taken to mitigate the impact “if hydrological conditions deteriorate”.

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