Evolving heat waves characteristics challenge heat warning systems and prevention plans

Publié le 3 avril 2021
Mis à jour le 1 octobre 2021

This paper analyses how recent trends in heat waves impact heat warning systems. We performed a retrospective analysis of the challenges faced by the French heat prevention plan since 2004. We described trends based on the environmental and health data collected each summer by the French heat warning system and prevention plan. Major evolutions of the system were tracked based on the evaluations organized each autumn with the stakeholders of the prevention plan. Excess deaths numbering 8000 were observed during heat waves between 2004 and 2019, 71% of these between 2015 and 2019. We observed major changes in the characteristics, frequency and the geographical spread of heat waves since 2015. Feedbacks led to several updates of the warning system such as the extension of the surveillance period. They also revealed that risk perception remained limited among the population and the stakeholders. The sharp increase in the number of heat warnings issued per year since 2015 challenges the acceptability of the heat warnings. Recent heat waves without historical equivalent interfere with the development of evidence-based prevention strategies. The growing public health impacts heat waves emphasize the urgent need to act to adapt the population, at different levels of intervention, from individual comportments to structural modifications. A specific attention should be given to increase the resources allocated to the evaluation and the management of heat-related risks, especially considering the needs to catch with the rapid rhythm of the changing climate.

Auteur : Pascal Mathilde, Lagarrigue Robin, Tabai Anouk, Bonmarin Isabelle, Camail Sacha, Laaidi Karine, Le Tertre Alain, Denys Sébastien
International Journal of Biometeorology, 2021, vol. 65, n°. 10, p. 1683-1694