What Causes Droughts?

Quck answer

Droughts are caused by a combination of factors, including lack of rainfall, high temperatures, and evaporation. Climate change can also contribute to the occurrence of droughts. When there is reduced rainfall over an extended period of time, the soil becomes dry and water sources such as rivers and lakes start to deplete. This leads to a shortage of water for agriculture, drinking, and other essential needs. Droughts can have severe impacts on ecosystems, economies, and communities, leading to crop failures, water scarcity, and increased wildfires. Understanding the causes of droughts is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate their effects and ensure water security.


Are you interested in monitoring the weather? Instead of watching the weather report on TV, most children prefer to go outside and check the sky. Is it sunny or cloudy? Just look up!

However, looking up only provides information about the current weather. It doesn’t give much insight into what the weather will be like in a few hours or days. To get an idea of the weather forecast for the next week, you will need assistance from a meteorologist.

People closely monitor the weather for various reasons. Apart from knowing how to dress appropriately, many individuals want to know if their outdoor plans will be disrupted by rain. Others, such as farmers, may be hoping for rain and eager to know when it will arrive.

Most people generally prefer sunshine over rain. In fact, some individuals wish it would never rain. However, if their wish came true, they would undoubtedly regret it, as the world is not a very pleasant place to live in without rain. Just ask anyone who has experienced a severe drought.

In meteorological terms, a drought refers to an extended period of time with below-average precipitation. How long? That varies depending on the normal climate of an area. It also depends on one’s perspective. A few weeks or even months with minimal rainfall is normal in desert regions. However, for a farmer who has just planted crops, a few weeks without rain can be catastrophic.

Unlike hurricanes and tornadoes, which cause immediate devastation, the impacts of a drought may take some time to become evident. However, this does not mean that these effects are any less significant. Prolonged drought can have a global impact on millions of people.

Drought can have various causes. The primary cause is a sustained lack of precipitation. Like any weather-related phenomenon, there can be multiple factors that influence the amount of rain or snow an area receives.

However, even areas with normal rainfall can experience drought. How is that possible? Some regions rely heavily on rivers for their water supply. If upstream areas do not receive their usual amount of precipitation, the water levels in rivers can decrease, resulting in drought conditions downstream.

Human activities can also contribute to the occurrence of droughts. Excessive water usage can strain local water supplies. Poor agricultural practices can also exacerbate the situation. For instance, human actions were a significant factor in the severe drought conditions known as the Dust Bowl in the Midwest United States during the 1930s.

When a drought occurs, its impact can be wide-ranging and severe. Land becomes dry. Crops suffer, and food supplies can diminish. Streams and rivers dry up. The water levels in lakes, reservoirs, and wells decrease. Consider all the ways in which you rely on water. During a drought, all of these things are affected.

So, how does a drought come to an end? A single rainfall is usually not sufficient. Just as a drought develops slowly, its conclusion often requires a significant amount of time as well. An extended period with above-average precipitation is often necessary.

The type of precipitation is also important. Light rains and thunderstorms don’t have much of a positive impact. Light rains don’t bring enough water, while thunderstorms can bring an excessive amount of water too quickly. Extended, soaking rains are the most beneficial in relieving drought.

Give it a try

Are you prepared to learn more about the conditions that lead to droughts? Ask a friend or family member to assist you in exploring the following activities:

– Determine the average annual rainfall in your area using the Internet. Has your area received the normal amount of rain so far this year? Or has it been an unusually wet or dry year?

– Has your local area ever experienced a severe drought? You can find out by asking a local farmer in farming areas or conducting research online or at your local library.

– Check your local weather forecast for the chance of rain. What are the odds of a drought in the upcoming months? Visit the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook online to determine whether your area is likely to face a drought in the near future.

– Imagine if your water supply ran out. Watch a video on National Geographic featuring 6th graders from San Diego explaining how they would find clean freshwater if they were faced with a water shortage.

Sources of Wonder

– http://water.usgs.gov/edu/qadroughts.html

– http://drought.unl.edu/droughtforkids/whatisdrought/causesofdrought.aspx

FAQ

1. What is a drought?

A drought is a period of abnormally dry weather, characterized by a lack of precipitation, which leads to a shortage of water. It can last for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity and duration of the dry conditions.

2. What causes droughts?

Droughts can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause is a lack of rainfall or snowfall, which can be influenced by changes in weather patterns, such as El Niño or La Niña. Other factors include high temperatures, which increase evaporation rates and dry out the soil, and deforestation, which reduces the amount of moisture in the air.

3. Are droughts natural or human-induced?

Droughts can occur naturally due to variations in climate and weather patterns. However, human activities can also contribute to the occurrence and severity of droughts. Activities such as excessive water consumption, improper land management practices, and climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions can all exacerbate drought conditions.

4. How do droughts impact the environment?

Droughts have a significant impact on the environment. They can lead to a decrease in water levels in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, which affects aquatic ecosystems and disrupts the natural balance of plants and animals. Droughts can also increase the risk of wildfires, as dry conditions make it easier for fires to start and spread. Additionally, droughts can result in crop failures, loss of biodiversity, and the depletion of groundwater resources.

5. What are the social and economic impacts of droughts?

Droughts can have serious social and economic consequences. They can lead to water shortages, which can affect access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, leading to health issues. Droughts can also cause crop failures and livestock losses, resulting in food shortages and increased food prices. In addition, droughts can impact industries that rely on water, such as agriculture, energy production, and tourism, leading to economic losses and job cuts.

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