Stockholm, Dublin, Edinburgh… In which countries are these different capitals located? Each year, these destinations are popular with people who can’t stand the summer heat.

And for good reason. After record temperatures and a particularly hot summer last year, forecasts for 2023 suggest that France could once again be faced with heat waves. According to Météo-France’s monthly bulletin of major trends for May, June and July in Europe, there is a 50% probability of a warmer than normal scenario in France, compared to 33% for a normal scenario. This forecast is also valid for a large part of Europe, especially for the south of the continent. These forecasts raise concerns about the potentially dramatic effects of heat waves, especially for the elderly and vulnerable.

A recent study published in the scientific journal The Lancet analyzed excess mortality during episodes of extreme temperatures in major European cities between 2000 and 2019. Among the 854 cities studied, Paris was identified as the European capital presenting the risk relative excess mortality in the event of extreme heat, in particular among people aged 85 and over. According to the study, Paris presents a relative risk of excess mortality of 1,603 people. Amsterdam (1,595) and Rome (1,572) follow the French capital closely, while Milan and Bologna are also among the major cities most affected by these episodes (excluding capitals).

The results of the study underline the significant impact of the urban heat island effect in large cities. Pierre Masselot, lead author of the study, explains that the cities most vulnerable to heat are generally the largest, with temperature differences of up to 10°C between Paris and its surroundings. Paris is also penalized by its high degree of concrete and its low rate of tree cover, well below the average of other European capitals.

With forecasts suggesting a potentially scorching summer in France and much of Europe, it is essential to prepare for the risks associated with these extreme heat events. Authorities and citizens must take action to protect vulnerable populations and mitigate the adverse effects of urban heat. Increasing tree cover, implementing adaptation measures in major cities and increasing awareness of heat risks are all necessary actions to face these new climate challenges.

Check out our slideshow below to test your knowledge of European capitals.