France is exposed to multiple climatic hazards


France’s extreme diversity of climatic and geomorphological characteristics underpins the exposure of its territories: being subject to floods (coastline), clay soils conducive to clay shrinkage and swelling (south-west, centre), tropical cyclones (West Indies) to only name a few of them.

Between 1900 and 2017, 180 damaging natural events have affected France. Nine out of ten events are linked to climatic conditions. About two thirds of the climatic phenomena correspond to floods and one fifth are atmospheric phenomena (cyclone, hurricane, storm). However, the majority of victims (85%) are the result of heat waves. The heat wave in the summer of 2003 was particularly devastating in metropolitan France (15,000 deaths).
Among all damaging natural events (including earthquakes), more than two-thirds are said to be “very serious”. It is because they either caused at least 10 deaths or more than 30 million euros of material damage. The annual frequency of these “very serious” accidents has almost quadrupled in the last two decades compared to the previous four. It has increased from one event per year between 1950 and 1996, to 3.6 over the period from 1997 to 2017.
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