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A drought or drouth is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation), surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days.It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics significantly increase the chances of a drought developing and subsequent bush fires. Periods of heat can significantly worsen drought conditions by hastening evaporation of water vapour.
Drought is a recurring feature of the climate in most parts of the world.
Many plant species, such as those in the family Cactaceae (or cacti), have drought tolerance adaptations like reduced leaf area and waxy cuticles to enhance their ability to tolerate drought. Some others survive dry periods as buried seeds. Semi-permanent drought produces arid biomes such as deserts and grasslands.Prolonged droughts have caused mass migrations and humanitarian crisis. Most arid ecosystems have inherently low productivity. The most prolonged drought ever in the world in recorded history occurred in the Atacama Desert in Chile (400 Years).
Drought affect food production and human society, so they are considered a disaster, of natural, supernatural or human cause (which itself could be supernatural causes, malediction, sin, ...). It is among the earliest documented climatic events, present in the Epic of Gilgamesh and tied to the Biblical story of Joseph's arrival in and the later Exodus from Ancient Egypt.Hunter-gatherer migrations in 9,500 BC Chile have been linked to the phenomenon, as has the exodus of early humans out of Africa and into the rest of the world around 135,000 years ago. Rituals exist to prevent or avert drought, rainmaking could go from dances to scapegoating to human sacrifices. Nowadays, those ancient practices are for the most part relegated to folklore and replaced by more rational water management.
People tend to define droughts in three main ways:
As a drought persists, the conditions surrounding it gradually worsen and its impact on the local population gradually increases.
Mechanisms of producing precipitation include convective, stratiform,and orographic rainfall. Convective processes involve strong vertical motions that can cause the overturning of the atmosphere in that location within an hour and cause heavy precipitation, while stratiform processes involve weaker upward motions and less intense precipitation over a longer duration. Precipitation can be divided into three categories, based on whether it falls as liquid water, liquid water that freezes on contact with the surface, or ice. Droughts occur mainly in areas where normal levels of rainfall are, in themselves, low. If these factors do not support precipitation volumes sufficiently to reach the surface over a sufficient time, the result is a drought. Drought can be triggered by a high level of reflected sunlight and above average prevalence of high pressure systems, winds carrying continental, rather than oceanic air masses, and ridges of high pressure areas aloft can prevent or restrict the developing of thunderstorm activity or rainfall over one certain region. Once a region is within drought, feedback mechanisms such as local arid air, hot conditions which can promote warm core ridging, and minimal evapotranspiration can worsen drought conditions.
Within the tropics, distinct, wet and dry seasons emerge due to the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone or Monsoon trough.The dry season greatly increases drought occurrence, and is characterized by its low humidity, with watering holes and rivers drying up. Because of the lack of these watering holes, many grazing animals are forced to migrate due to the lack of water in search of more fertile lands. Examples of such animals are zebras, elephants, and wildebeest. Because of the lack of water in the plants, bushfires are common. Since water vapor becomes more energetic with increasing temperature, more water vapor is required to increase relative humidity values to 100% at higher temperatures (or to get the temperature to fall to the dew point). Periods of warmth quicken the pace of fruit and vegetable production, increase evaporation and transpiration from plants, and worsen drought conditions.
Drier and hotter weather occurs in parts of the Amazon River Basin, Colombia, and Central America during El Niño events. Winters during the El Niño are warmer and drier than average conditions in the Northwest, northern Midwest, and northern Mideast United States, so those regions experience reduced snowfalls. Conditions are also drier than normal from December to February in south-central Africa, mainly in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana. Direct effects of El Niño resulting in drier conditions occur in parts of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, increasing bush fires, worsening haze, and decreasing air quality dramatically. Drier-than-normal conditions are also in general observed in Queensland, inland Victoria, inland New South Wales, and eastern Tasmania from June to August. As warm water spreads from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific, it causes extensive drought in the western Pacific. Singapore experienced the driest February in 2014 since records began in 1869, with only 6.3 mm of rain falling in the month and temperatures hitting as high as 35 °C on 26 February. The years 1968 and 2005 had the next driest Februaries, when 8.4 mm of rain fell.
Human activity can directly trigger exacerbating factors such as over farming, excessive irrigation,deforestation, and erosion adversely impact the ability of the land to capture and hold water. In arid climates, the main source of erosion is wind. Erosion can be the result of material movement by the wind. The wind can cause small particles to be lifted and therefore moved to another region (deflation). Suspended particles within the wind may impact on solid objects causing erosion by abrasion (ecological succession). Wind erosion generally occurs in areas with little or no vegetation, often in areas where there is insufficient rainfall to support vegetation.
Loess is a homogeneous, typically nonstratified, porous, friable, slightly coherent, often calcareous, fine-grained, silty, pale yellow or buff, windblown (Aeolian) sediment.It generally occurs as a widespread blanket deposit that covers areas of hundreds of square kilometers and tens of meters thick. Loess often stands in either steep or vertical faces. Loess tends to develop into highly rich soils. Under appropriate climatic conditions, areas with loess are among the most agriculturally productive in the world. Loess deposits are geologically unstable by nature, and will erode very readily. Therefore, windbreaks (such as big trees and bushes) are often planted by farmers to reduce the wind erosion of loess. Wind erosion is much more severe in arid areas and during times of drought. For example, in the Great Plains, it is estimated that soil loss due to wind erosion can be as much as 6100 times greater in drought years than in wet years.
Overall, global warming will result in increased world rainfall.Activities resulting in global climate change are expected to trigger droughts with a substantial impact on agriculture throughout the world, and especially in developing nations. Along with drought in some areas, flooding and erosion could increase in others. Some proposed solutions to global warming that focus on more active techniques, solar radiation management through the use of a space sunshade for one, may also carry with them increased chances of drought.
One can divide the effects of droughts and water shortages into three groups: environmental, economic and social.
Effects vary according to vulnerability. For example, subsistence farmers are more likely to migrate during drought because they do not have alternative food-sources. Areas with populations that depend on water sources as a major food-source are more vulnerable to famine.
Drought can also reduce water quality,because lower water-flows reduce dilution of pollutants and increase contamination of remaining water-sources. Common consequences of drought include:
Well-known historical droughts include:
The Darfur conflict in Sudan, also affecting Chad, was fueled by decades of drought; combination of drought, desertification and overpopulation are among the causes of the Darfur conflict, because the Arab Baggara nomads searching for water have to take their livestock further south, to land mainly occupied by non-Arab farming people.
Approximately 2.4 billion people live in the drainage basin of the Himalayan rivers. India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades. Drought in India affecting the Ganges is of particular concern, as it provides drinking water and agricultural irrigation for more than 500 million people. The west coast of North America, which gets much of its water from glaciers in mountain ranges such as the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, also would be affected.
In 2005, parts of the Amazon basin experienced the worst drought in 100 years.A 23 July 2006 article reported Woods Hole Research Center results showing that the forest in its present form could survive only three years of drought. Scientists at the Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research argue in the article that this drought response, coupled with the effects of deforestation on regional climate, are pushing the rainforest towards a "tipping point" where it would irreversibly start to die. It concludes that the rainforest is on the brink of being turned into savanna or desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate. According to the WWF, the combination of climate change and deforestation increases the drying effect of dead trees that fuels forest fires.
By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid lands commonly known as the outback. A 2005 study by Australian and American researchers investigated the desertification of the interior, and suggested that one explanation was related to human settlers who arrived about 50,000 years ago. Regular burning by these settlers could have prevented monsoons from reaching interior Australia.In June 2008 it became known that an expert panel had warned of long term, maybe irreversible, severe ecological damage for the whole Murray-Darling basin if it did not receive sufficient water by October 2008. Australia could experience more severe droughts and they could become more frequent in the future, a government-commissioned report said on July 6, 2008. Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery, predicted that unless it made drastic changes, Perth in Western Australia could become the world's first ghost metropolis, an abandoned city with no more water to sustain its population. The long Australian Millennial drought broke in 2010.
Recurring droughts leading to desertification in East Africa have created grave ecological catastrophes, prompting food shortages in 1984–85, 2006 and 2011.During the 2011 drought, an estimated 50,000 to 150,000 people were reported to have died, though these figures and the extent of the crisis are disputed. In February 2012, the UN announced that the crisis was over due to a scaling up of relief efforts and a bumper harvest. Aid agencies subsequently shifted their emphasis to recovery efforts, including digging irrigation canals and distributing plant seeds.
In 2012, a severe drought struck the western Sahel. The Methodist Relief & Development Fund (MRDF) reported that more than 10 million people in the region were at risk of famine due to a month-long heat wave that was hovering over Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. A fund of about £20,000 was distributed to the drought-hit countries.
Agriculturally, people can effectively mitigate much of the impact of drought through irrigation and crop rotation. Failure to develop adequate drought mitigation strategies carries a grave human cost in the modern era, exacerbated by ever-increasing population densities. President Roosevelt on April 27, 1935, signed documents creating the Soil Conservation Service (SCS)—now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Models of the law were sent to each state where they were enacted. These were the first enduring practical programs to curtail future susceptibility to drought, creating agencies that first began to stress soil conservation measures to protect farm lands today. It was not until the 1950s that there was an importance placed on water conservation was put into the existing laws (NRCS 2014).
Strategies for drought protection, mitigation or relief include:
Cape Verde is a group of arid Atlantic islands which are home to a number of birds and reptiles and constitute a unique ecoregion in the World Wildlife Fund classification.
Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil, it is one form of soil degradation. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice (glaciers), snow, air (wind), plants, animals, and humans. In accordance with these agents, erosion is sometimes divided into water erosion, glacial erosion, snow erosion, wind (aeolean) erosion, zoogenic erosion and anthropogenic erosion. Soil erosion may be a slow process that continues relatively unnoticed, or it may occur at an alarming rate causing a serious loss of topsoil. The loss of soil from farmland may be reflected in reduced crop production potential, lower surface water quality and damaged drainage networks.
In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapour that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, graupel and hail. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and "precipitates". Thus, fog and mist are not precipitation but suspensions, because the water vapor does not condense sufficiently to precipitate. Two processes, possibly acting together, can lead to air becoming saturated: cooling the air or adding water vapor to the air. Precipitation forms as smaller droplets coalesce via collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud. Short, intense periods of rain in scattered locations are called "showers."
Dryland farming and dry farming encompass specific agricultural techniques for the non-irrigated cultivation of crops. Dryland farming is associated with drylands, areas characterized by a cool wet season followed by a warm dry season. They are also associated with arid conditions, areas prone to drought and those having scarce water-resources.
Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or undesirable. Natural hazards are excluded as a cause; however human activities can indirectly affect phenomena such as floods and bush fires.
Weird, or severe weather refers to any dangerous meteorological phenomena with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life. Types of severe weather phenomena vary, depending on the latitude, altitude, topography, and atmospheric conditions. High winds, hail, excessive precipitation, and wildfires are forms and effects of severe weather, as are thunderstorms, downbursts, tornadoes, waterspouts, tropical cyclones, and extratropical cyclones. Regional and seasonal severe weather phenomena include blizzards (snowstorms), ice storms, and duststorms.
The climate of Argentina is a vastly complex subject, as the vast size of the country and wide variation in altitude make for a wide range of climate types. Summers are the warmest and wettest season in most of the country except in most of Patagonia where it is the driest season. Winters are normally mild in the north, cool in the center and cold in the southern parts experiencing frequent frost and snow. Because southern parts of the country are moderated by the surrounding oceans, the cold is less intense and prolonged than areas at similar latitudes in the northern hemisphere. Spring and autumn are transition seasons that generally feature mild weather.
Drought in the United States is similar to that of other portions of the globe. Below normal precipitation leads to drought, which is caused by an above average persistence of high pressure over the drought area. Changes in the track of extratropical cyclones, which can occur during climate cycles such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, as well as the North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, modulates which areas would be more prone to drought and when drought develops. Increased drought frequency is expected to be one of the effects of global warming. In dry areas, removing grass cover and going with a more natural vegetation for the area can reduce the impact of drought, since a significant amount of fresh water is used to keep lawns green. Droughts are periodic, alternating with floods over a series of years.
A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.
Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.
Droughts are a relatively common feature of the weather in the United Kingdom, with one around every 5–10 years on average. These droughts are usually during the summer, when a blocking high causes hot, dry weather for an extended period. However droughts can vary in their characteristics. All types of drought cause issues across all sectors, with impacts extending to the ecosystem, agriculture and the economy of the whole country in severe cases of drought. The south east of the country usually suffers most, as it has the highest population and the lowest average precipitation per year, which is even lower in a drought. Even in these areas in severe droughts, the definition, impacts, effects and management are all minimal in comparison to drought prone areas such as Australia and parts of the United States. In recent years however, the summers of 2007, 2008, 2009, August 2010 and 2012 were wetter than normal, 2007 being wettest on record.
Earth rainfall climatology Is the study of rainfall, a sub-field of Meteorology. Formally, a wider study includes water falling as ice crystals, i.e. hail, sleet, snow.
Marsupial lawns are portions of land where the soil moisture is much higher than in the vegetation surrounding it. These high moisture levels create lawns that attract a large amount of grazing by marsupials. Commonly found in Tasmania, the lawns function as habitats for local animals.
Drylands are defined by a scarcity of water. Drylands are zones where precipitation is balanced by evaporation from surfaces and by transpiration by plants (evapotranspiration). The United Nations Environment Program defines drylands as tropical and temperate areas with an aridity index of less than 0.65. One can classify drylands into four sub-types:
Climate change in Alabama encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of Alabama.
Climate change in Arkansas refers to the effects of climate change attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the state of Arkansas.
Climate change in Maryland encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of Maryland.
Climate change in Nebraska encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of Nebraska.
The 2018–19 Southern Africa drought is an ongoing period of drought taking place in Southern Africa. The drought began in late October 2018, and is negatively affecting food security in the region. As of mid-August 2019, the drought is classified as a level 2 Red-Class event by the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.. The alert level was reduced by December 2019 to the Orange-1.7, as the new wet season have started.
Climate change in South Dakota encompasses the effects of climate change, attributed to man-made increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in the U.S. state of South Dakota.