Environmental Chemistry


natural disaster is a major adverse event. Disaster results from natural processes of the Earth. Droughts are one of them. Drought is basically the unusual dryness of the soil.



Introduction to Droughts

Drought is shortly the unusual dryness of soil due to the levels of rainfall. Drought occurs when rainfall is significantly below average over a prolonged period. It is an event of shortages in the water supply, surface water, or groundwater. A drought can last for years, months or days.

Shortage of water, Dry and hot winds, rise in temperature, and consequent evaporation of moisture from the ground contribute to conditions of drought. Droughts also result in crop failure too. Droughts have a major impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected regions. Also, droughts harm the local economy of the region. Droughts are considered a natural disaster as it disturbs our whole ecosystem.

Drought is considered as the recurring feature of the climate in most parts of the world. These days regular droughts have become more extreme and more unpredictable because of climatic changes. Also, studies based on dendrochronology, confirm that the drought-affected by global warming goes back to 1900.

Millennium Drought in Australia (1997–2009) is a well-known historical drought. The drought led to a water supply crisis across the country. As a result of it, many desalination plants were built for the first time. These plants are meant for the process of removing salt from seawater. The State of Texas in 2011, lived under a drought emergency declaration for the whole year. The state suffered severe economic losses. If ant time drought persists, the conditions surrounding the region gradually worsen and its impact on the local population gradually increases day by day.

Types of Droughts

Meteorological Drought

This type of drought occurs when there is a prolonged time with less than average rainfall. Meteorological drought usually paves the way for other kinds of drought.

Agricultural Drought

This type of drought affects crop production or the ecology of the range. The conditions of drought can arise independently due to any change in precipitation levels, irrigation, or soil conditions.  Erosion occurs because of poorly planned agricultural attempts. This causes a shortfall in water available to the crops causes drought. However, the traditional drought occurs due to an extended period of below-average rainfall.

Hydrological Drought

This type of drought occurs when the water reserves available to us fall below a significant threshold. These sources are that are aquifers, lakes and reservoirs fall. Hydrological drought tends to show up more slowly.

This slow pace of drought is because it involves stored water that is used but not replenished from sources. Like an agricultural drought, this can be triggered by more than just a loss of rainfall. For example, around 2007 Kazakhstan was given a large amount of money by the World Bank to restore water that had been diverted to other nations from the Aral Sea under Soviet rule.

Causes of Drought

A drought is mainly the cause of drier conditions. It is comparable to normal conditions that eventually lead to water supply problems. Really hot temperatures which eventually cause the moisture to evaporate from the soil can make drought worse. If any region is hot and dry, it doesn’t always mean that it is going through a drought. The dry season greatly increases drought occurrence. It is characterized by its low humidity, with watering holes and cracks, and rivers drying up. Due to the lack of these watering holes, many animals unwillingly migrate. This migration is due to the lack of water in search of more fertile lands.

Land and water temperatures cause droughts. As the temperature increases, more water evaporates and severe weather conditions also increase. Landscapes and crops need more water for their survival and growth and thus the overall demand for water increases gradually. Drought also occurs by air circulation and weather patterns. The water we have today is all the water we ever have now. Water available is moved by the weather patterns in the air all around. This is changing constantly.

Soil moisture levels also lead to drought. There is the evaporation of water for the creation of clouds when the soil moisture depletes. Demand, need, and supply of water issues are also a cause of droughts. The demand for water by people can worsen the situation depending on how the region reacts. Especially when the weather conditions, temperatures, or air patterns push a region toward a drought. Excessive irrigation is excellent for papa contributing to drought.

FAQs on Droughts

Question 1: What are the consequences of drought?

Answer: Some common consequences of drought are:

  • Diminished crop growth or yield productions.
  • Dust bowls and Dust storms, when drought hits an area suffering from desertification and erosion.
  • Famine
  • Habitat damage – affecting terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.
  • Hunger– drought provides too little water for food crops and human beings.
  • Malnutrition, dehydration and related diseases is a major consequence.
  • Mass migration of people in search of food and water is very common.
  • Shortages of water for industrial and domestic purposes.
  • Fight over natural resources, including water and food.

Question 2: Is drought a natural disaster or a man-made disaster?

Answer: A natural hazard is a threat of a naturally occurring event that has a negative impact on the environment, humans, and their survival. This negative effect is a natural disaster. In simple words when the hazardous threat eventually happens and harms human life, we call the event a natural disaster.

Drought is a natural disaster. Lack of precipitation for a protracted period of time causes drought. This results in a water shortage which affects the ecosystem. While droughts occur naturally, human activity, such as water use and water management, can exacerbate the dry conditions of the region.

Question 3: How to prevent droughts.

Answer: To deal effectively with the drought, here are some measures:

  • Interlinking of national water resources (rivers).
  • Agriculture and irrigation patterns need change.
  • Water transportation channels need to be maintained properly. Leakages are bad.
  • Water-intensive industries should be away from water deficit regions.
  • Accumulating as much as rainwater we could. Improving rain harvesting infrastructure. Building more check dams, a small run of the river projects, more farm-lakes, improving water table, using mulching techniques in farms.
  • Water meters need to be in a place like electricity meters. Asking someone not to consume excess water unnecessarily has not given good results so far. Nobody can count water a water meter will do that.
  • Have water trains on standby. Attach them to the units of disaster management teams. As soon as a possibility of drought arises in a region, the water train can reach there.
  • We need to prevent deforestation and thus we require afforestation.
  • Judicious use of water. Awareness that wasted water won’t come back easily.
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