What is drought, its causes and consequences

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At this time when the earth is warming above normal, it is increasingly common to speak of drought in those places where the rain is very little or directly scarce or, even, has stopped appearing. Although it is more frequent in certain places, drought is one of the environmental problems that can affect us all.

In this Green Ecologist article, we tell you in detail what is drought, its causes and consequences, as well as some ideas that we can implement to prevent the problem from getting worse.

What is drought and which countries suffer the most

Drought is a prolonged period in which a region does not receive enough water as to supply the needs of the plants and animals that inhabit that area, including humans. Although the time period is relative, for example in the Botswana desert, a lack of rain is considered drought for more than seven years, while in France or the United Kingdom, it only takes two months to consider it.

The main reason why a region can suffer a drought period It is the lack of rainfall in the area, although there are others, as we will see later in this article. In addition, the absence of water has serious consequences for, for example, crops or livestock on these lands, as we will also see below.

The countries most affected by the drought are those of the horn of africa, but also those of the Mediterranean Region and countries close to Ecuador.

What kinds of drought exist

Although not everyone knows it, there are several different types of drought that there may be:

  • Meteorological drought: This type of drought is due to the absence or scarcity of rainfall during a certain period.
  • Agricultural drought: this type of drought affects crops more. It may be due to an absence of rain or poorly planned agricultural activity.
  • Hydrological drought: This type of drought occurs when the water reserves in the area are below average. It may be due to lack of rain or inadequate human activity.

Main causes of drought

Thus, among the main reasons why there are prolonged periods without rainfall and / or water reserves in some part of the planet, we can highlight the following causes of drought:

  • Absence or rain shortage, especially, during the times that correspond to it, so water is scarce.
  • The climatic cycles both oceanic and atmospheric, such as the El Niño phenomenon in South America, which means that every year there are periods of drought in America and Australia or oscillations in the North Atlantic, which bring droughts to the northeast of Spain.
  • Human activities such as overexploitation of agricultural land, excessive irrigation or deforestation, promote erosion and negatively affect the ability of the soil to store and retain water. These effects are triggered mainly at the local level.
  • Activities that promote climate change and global overheating, both human and natural activities. This will cause increased rainfall with floods in certain places and periods of drought and warming, in others. They are, therefore, effects on a global level.
  • The use in agriculture of toxic products such as ammonia increases the risk of desertification.
  • Irregular periods of rainfall.

Consequences of drought

When we talk about the importance of water for the planet and human beings, we can translate it as essential for life. Therefore, the consequences of droughts on the planet are negative and, in certain cases, even devastating.

  • Loss of agricultural production and land for livestock, with the consequent loss of income and food. In addition, as there is little production of certain foods, they rise in price due to the law of supply and demand.
  • Malnutrition, dehydration and diseases.
  • Famine due to food shortages.
  • Migration of human beings and animal species.
  • Damage to habitat.
  • Loss of biodiversity or what is the same, the reduction and even extinction of plant and animal species.
  • Dust storms, due to desertification and erosion.
  • Global instability, which can lead to conflicts and wars over natural resources.
  • Less supply of food in the market.

Possible solutions for drought

Luckily there are some possible solutions for droughts, which can help us mitigate their effects and even avoid them in certain areas.

  • Construction of dams and reservoirs to store water and release it when necessary.
  • Monitoring droughts: measuring rainfall levels and comparing them to water use can help you take steps to avoid droughts.
  • Land use: such as crop rotation to reduce erosion or during drier periods, plant crops with less water demand.
  • Capture rainwater: collect and store water in areas adapted for this, such as roofs.
  • Construction of water transfers: such as aqueducts, canals or redirection of rivers to irrigate and supply water prone to drought.
  • Reuse of recycled or waste water.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is drought, its causes and consequences, we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment.

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