A drought is a prolonged period of below-average precipitation, leading to a shortage of water resources in a particular area. Droughts can have severe environmental and economic impacts, such as crop failures, wildfires, and water shortages. Droughts can be caused by a variety of factors, including weather patterns, climate change, and human activities. Droughts can be classified as meteorological, agricultural, or hydrological droughts, depending on the specific type of water shortage that is occurring. Drought monitoring and early warning systems are used to track the severity of droughts and help mitigate their impacts.
Increasing temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns are expected to increase the frequency and intensity of drought in many regions. When rainfall is less than normal for several weeks, months, or years, the flow of streams and rivers declines, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fall, and the depth to water in wells increases. If dry weather persists and water-supply problems develop, the dry period can become a drought. The term “drought” can have different meanings to different people, depending on how a water deficiency affects them.
Droughts can be caused by a variety of factors, including weather patterns, climate change, and human activities. Meteorological droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation, while agricultural droughts occur when there is not enough water available for crops. Hydrological droughts occur when there is not enough water available in rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers.
Climate change is also expected to increase the frequency and severity of droughts in many regions. Rising temperatures can increase evaporation and transpiration, leading to increased water demand and reduced water availability. Climate change can also alter precipitation patterns, leading to changes in the timing and amount of precipitation that can exacerbate drought conditions.
Drought monitoring and early warning systems are used to track the severity of droughts and help mitigate their impacts. These systems can include satellite-based remote sensing, ground-based observations, and climate and weather models. They can also include tools to help communities and governments prepare for and respond to droughts, such as water conservation and management plans, and early warning systems for farmers and other stakeholders.
TYPES OF DROUGHTS
In addition to the impacts and causes of droughts I mentioned earlier, it’s important to note that droughts can be classified into several types based on their duration, frequency, and severity. These include:
Caused by a lack of water available for crop growth, often linked to a lack of precipitation, but also resulting from other factors such as high temperatures, evaporation and soil moisture deficit.
This drought condition impacts the country’s economy drastically. Farmers are badly effected with agricultural drought when soil moisture decreases and water demand for crop production surpasses the water supply level impacting crop growth.
Decline in crop growth and production ultimately hampers the food supply and economy. Agricultural drought condition happens when the soil moisture reduces due to hot and dry weather with less rainfall leading to lack of agricultural production.
Caused by a deficiency of surface and subsurface water, resulting from low precipitation, increased water usage, and/or high evapotranspiration.
This is a drought condition where in the water level of all the surface water bodies including dams, lakes, reservoirs, rivers etc. falls below an established standard. Even when demand or usage of water is more than the supply or availability of water in the reserves hydrological drought happens.
Caused by a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period, usually defined by a prolonged period of below-average precipitation.
This drought condition is due to natural factors like lower level of precipitation, lack of moisture in the atmosphere, dryness for longer period and high temperature. Meteorological drought if persist for longer time period can cause serious water crises and related problems. This drought can stretch from a small period to longer period.
Caused by a lack of water for human consumption, industrial and other uses, and resulting from a combination of meteorological, agricultural and hydrological droughts.
Droughts can also be classified as short-term or long-term, depending on their duration. Short-term droughts usually last from a few months to a year, while long-term droughts can last several years or even decades.
It’s also important to note that droughts can affect different sectors and regions differently. For example, droughts in urban areas may lead to water shortages and restrictions on water usage, while droughts in rural areas may lead to crop failures and food shortages. Droughts can also have different impacts on different socioeconomic groups, with low-income households and communities often being the most affected.
DROUGHT AND ITS CAUSES
If flood happens due to excess of water than drought due to lack of it and dryness and resultant lack of agricultural production leads to drought situation. The major causes of drought are:
Reduction of Surface Water Flow
When the flow of surface water bodies like streams and rivers reduces or the rivers get dried up due to storage of water in dams/ reservoirs in the upstream for hydro power plants and irrigation facilities, drought like situation happen in the downstream regions of the river.
Hydrological cycle (including evaporation, precipitation and condensation) of the earth is maintained by plants and trees. Trees have water retention capabilities, can control evaporation and maintain ground water level.
Deforestation due to excessive population growth and various economic activities has exposed the surface to erosion and reduced the level of ground water and the ability of the earth surface to hold water, as a result with prolong period of dryness, desertification and drought crises appears.
Rise in global temperature due to increase in greenhouse gases has impacted the climate drastically as a result many areas goes dry and forest catches fires leading to desertification and drought like condition.
PROBLEMS OF DROUGHT
The impact of drought can be felt beyond the physical boundary of drought hit areas. As drought condition is associated with lack of water, it impacts not only the society but also the economy and the environment.
Economic Impact Of Drought
Water is required for production of goods and service, thus lack of it impacts people, business and governments. water is prime factor for agricultural and related field, crop production largely depends on the water supply, and hence shortage of it hampers production of both crops and livestock’s.
Farmer’s or crop producers bear the brunt directly as lower crop production means direct loss of profit margin and income. Loss of income mainly of the farmer impacts their social life. Lower production and higher demand for food supply can lead to price rise of basic commodities, which have direct impact on the buyers especially the lower income group. Also, in case of shortages of basic commodities, things might be imported, again costing the government.
Drought has its direct impact on the people and the society and many indirect long term impact. For our basic daily activities including cooking, eating, bathing and cleaning we need water, thus its shortage or lack of it can directly impact our lives.
Water is directly related to our health as well, we need clean and fresh water for drinking and cooking. Polluted and stale water can cause serious health implications and spread diseases across the society. Due to lack of water supply agricultural and live stocks production takes a hitting causing lack of food production.
Drought like conditions impact the environment drastically. If the rivers, streams and other water bodies do not get fresh water supply through precipitation or melting snow the ecosystem of such aquatic bodies can be extremely impacted.
Many water borne organisms and animals dies due to lack of water supply. Lakes, Ponds and rivers, which get refilled with fresh rain water might also die if shortage of precipitations last for longer period. Soil erosion due to high temperature and dryness can remove the productive top soil leading to lower biological production and land degradations. Many animals and organisms loses their habitat threatening their extinctions.
To mitigate the impacts of droughts, a variety of strategies can be employed. These include:
water conservation and management,
irrigation modernization and water-saving technologies,
drought-resistant crop varieties,
early warning systems,
public education and awareness campaigns,
emergency response and relief measures,
and long-term planning and adaptation measures.
It’s important to also note that Droughts can also be mitigated by addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as land use changes, as these activities can exacerbate drought conditions.