What is drought? What are some interesting drought facts?
If you are looking for the answers to these questions, we have your back. The facts that you read here will help you with your school projects or, you may just read them to gain some knowledge.
So, without further ado, let us start our journey…
What is Drought?
Drought is a period of time during which the rainfall or the precipitation in any given area is less than the usual average rainfall or precipitation that the region receives.
This leads to a situation of water shortage. Drought can last from anywhere between weeks to years.
Interesting Drought Facts: 1-10
1. Drought can be declared in as little as 15 days!
2. Droughts are of different types. In fact, there are four different types of droughts that have been classified. They are:
- Meteorological drought – that is caused by shortage of precipitation or rainfall.
- Agricultural drought – that is caused by lack of moisture in the soil.
- Hydrological drought – that is caused by low levels of water in various water sources like rivers, lakes, etc.
- Socioeconomic drought – that is caused by shortage of tap and drinking water.
3. One of the many reasons for mass migration is drought. Because of the shortage of water, people are forced to leave their places in large numbers and settle in other places (even in other countries) to restart their life.
4. Droughts can lead to severe decrease in the total yield of crops. This can in turn, lead to food scarcity.
5. Drought is also known for reducing the livestock capacity.
6. Dust bowls are often caused by droughts. Dust bowls are characterized by intense dust storms that blow away the top soil completely. The result is that the soil left behind is poor-nutrient content that cannot sustain crops.
7. Habitat damage is another outcome of droughts. Fish, birds, animals – everyone loses habitat.
8. People reliant on local water end up experiencing dehydration, malnutrition, diseases, etc. in the event of prolonged droughts.
9. Wildfires are far more widespread during droughts. This happens because the plants become dry and easily catch fire.
10. If hydroelectric dams are present in the area stricken by droughts, electricity production is negatively impacted.
Interesting Drought Facts: 11-20
11. Droughts are often responsible for famine. This happens because droughts lead to water scarcity and crop irrigation takes a hit. This in turn, results in decreased crop production, thereby affecting the food supply and the food chain, which eventually leads to famine.
12. Between 1921 and 1922, Russia registered a death toll of a whopping 5 million people. The deaths were caused by starvation because, drought during the said period dramatically decreased the food supply.
13. Drought also leads to migration of snakes from drought-stricken areas to places where there is enough water. The increased migration of snakes also leads to increased snakebites to humans.
14. In northwest China, 3 million people died because of drought-induced famines between 1928 and 1930.
15. During droughts, water level in water bodies drop. This leads to increased concentration of toxic chemicals in those water bodies. These toxic chemicals then start entering food chain and food supply in greater concentration.
16. Droughts are even responsible for wars and even random armed conflicts. This happens when drought-stricken people start migrating to other places in search of water and food, thereby increasing the overall pressure on the food and water supply chain of the place where they relocate.
17. For example, the War in Darfur, Sudan, was partially caused by years of environmental and climate change and drought was one of the major reasons.
18. Drought is a natural disaster but unfortunately, it is often triggered by a host of human activities like excessive irrigation, deforestation, farming, global warming caused by increased emission of CO2, etc.
19. Drought is a recurrent thing. It returns again and again.
20. There is no climatic region which doesn’t experience drought. However, the characteristics of drought can vary from region to region.
Interesting Drought Facts: 21-30
21. Drought and aridity are two different things. It is quite easy to get confused between the two because even aridity means dryness and low rainfall. However, drought is a temporary thing while aridity is a permanent thing.
22. A region which is arid will always have low rainfall. A region experiencing drought may not be a place with naturally low rainfall. The region may experience a time period during with the rainfall decreases significantly.
23. The onset of drought is difficult to determine. Several years can pass before people can understand that a drought has hit them. In short, it can take weeks, months, or even years to understand that a drought has occurred.
24. A drought also comes to an end gradually just like its onset. So essentially, it may take years for the drought to come to an end.
25. A drought can last for over 10 years! For example, the US state of Missouri experienced a period of drought that lasted from 1930 to 1941. California experienced drought from 1928 to 1937.
26. It is natural to think that rainfall will end a drought. However, that is not true. A single episode of a light or a moderate rainfall will only provide a temporary relief.
27. Thunderstorms, which are also a type of natural disaster and can cause loss of life and cause large scale damages, also offers the same benefits as a light or medium rainfall provided it happens upstream of a reservoir. Why? Read on!
28. Thunderstorms are known for producing large amounts of precipitation within a very short period of time. Unfortunately, most of the water will run off into streams and drainage channels. The water will not be soaked into the ground.
29. When a thunderstorm happens upstream of a reservoir, the runoff is prevented and captured by the reservoir. This adds to the overall water supply that can be used as a relief from drought.
30. A soaking rain on the other hand is the one that is particularly helpful in putting an end to a drought. In case of soaking rain, the water enters the soil and increases the ground water level.
Interesting Drought Facts: 31-40
31. Tropical storm rains are typically soaking rains. Though tropical rains can cause damage, they have the ability of producing more precipitation than a single instance of regular soaking rainfall.
32. Interestingly, a tropical storm can lead to so much of rainfall that the precipitation exceeds the soil’s capacity to absorb water. This is when flooding and significant runoffs happen.
33. This is the reason why consistent soaking rainfall over a period of several months is necessary to putting an end to a drought.
34. The Horn of Africa was hit by a drought in 1984-1985. It eventually led to famine that killed 750,000 people.
35. In 1988, the United States of America was hit by a drought. It led to losses worth $40 billion.
36. With a gradual warming of climate, droughts are becoming more common and more severe.
37. If we go by the Guinness Book of World Records, 9 million to 13 million people in China died because there was no rainfall in Northern China from 1876 to 1879.
38. 3.25 million people in India died because of a drought in 1990.
39. The US experienced its worst droughts in the 1930s. This led to the term ‘Dirty Thirties.’
40. When it comes to the world’s costliest weather phenomena, hurricanes take the first spot, and droughts take the second spot.