Types, Causes and Effects of Droughts | Earth Eclipse (2022)

The entire human, plant and animal life spins around water. Lack of water can bring a region to its knees. Some regions entirely depend on agriculture for survival and when lack of water persists; their futures are literally dried up. But it’s not just farmers that need water to get by; industries, cities, and animals suffer when water shortage persists. The main cause of water shortage is drought. Drought is a natural disaster that can have far reaching impacts. According to the National Climate data Centre, droughts comes in second to hurricanes in regards to causing severe economic impacts. This is why people must learn to insulate themselves from it implications by ensuring prudent use of water when it’s bountiful in supply.

Droughts are generally periods that rainfall is below normal, leading to extended periods of water shortage. Droughts can also be defined as temporary situations when water demands in a hydrological system surpass the income of water from other sources. In most ecosystems, precipitation is the major source of water supply, which is why many droughts occur due to precipitation failure. During the period of extended water shortage, atmospheric, surface and ground water can reduce substantially or dry up altogether. Droughts are able to cause destruction and losses because their end cannot be predicted. They can last for months or years. It’s surprising that most people don’t view droughts as natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. This is because their destructive impacts are not instant. However, droughts can be disastrous in the long run.

Table of Contents

  • Types of Drought
      • Meteorological drought
      • Agricultural drought
      • Hydrological drought
      • Socioeconomic drought
  • Various Causes of Droughts
      • Lack or insufficient rainfall (or precipitation)
      • Changes in climate
      • Human activities
      • Overexploitation of surface water resources
  • Harmful Effects of Droughts
(Video) Solar Eclipse 101 | National Geographic

Types of Drought

Different sets of people have different definitions of drought. Meteorologists define drought as a prolonged duration without rain. Crop farmers describe drought as the absence of moisture, which inhibits crop growth. Hydrologists define drought as an extended period of less precipitation and stream flow. These definitions of drought bring us to the main types of droughts, which include:

  1. Meteorological drought

This kind of drought takes places when dry weather patterns outweigh other climatic conditions. It is greatly determined by the overall absence of moisture in the atmosphere, for instance, lack of precipitation coupled with other weather conditions like high temperatures and dry winds. Metrological drought is a warning sign of potential water shortage if conditions remain constant for extended period. This kind of drought can also be short lived, which means it can start and end in a short period.

(Video) Lunar Eclipse 101 | National Geographic

  1. Agricultural drought

This kind of drought occurs when atmospheric moisture is minimized to the degree that soil moisture is impacted. The reduction of moisture in the soil takes toll on crops and animals. Agricultural drought is the first signal people witness when meteorological drought is happening.

  1. Hydrological drought

This kind of drought manifests when there is evidently low water supply, more so in natural rivers and lakes, reservoirs, streams, and groundwater levels. Hydrological droughts occur after months of metrological droughts. Hydrological droughts stem from less precipitation, overreliance on these water sources for agriculture, energy requirements and other needs. Unlike meteorological droughts, hydrological droughts do not take place at the same time. This reduction in quantity and quality of surface water is a direct effect of meteorological drought.

  1. Socioeconomic drought

This kind of drought is related to demand and supply. Supply of specific goods and services, for example, drinking water, food, and energy are impacted or threatened by shifts in hydrological and meteorological changes. This situation is sometimes compounded by rising population and explosion of demand for those goods and services to the degree that it leads to scramble for the little available water. This kind of drought takes a long time to become severe and equally long time to recover from it.

(Video) Lunar and Solar Eclipse Explained: A Beginner’s Guide to Eclipses

READ: Causes and Effects of Drought

Various Causes of Droughts

  1. Lack or insufficient rainfall (or precipitation)

This is the major cause of droughts in most regions. A long-drawn-out period without rainfall can cause an area to dry out. The quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere pretty much impacts the precipitation of an area. When a region has moist and low-pressure systems, there is huge probability that rain, hail, and snow will occur. The exact opposite would happen when the region has high-pressure systems, and less water vapor. Farmers plant crops in anticipation of rains, and so when the rains fail, and irrigation systems are not in place, agricultural drought happens.

  1. Changes in climate

Changes in climate, for instance, global warming can contribute to droughts. Global warming is likely to impact the whole world, especially third world economies. Most governments have tried to play down the fact that the earth’s temperature has significantly increased. But scientists have proven, without doubt, that human activities are the main contributors to the increase in greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. This increase in greenhouse gasses has resulted in warmer temperatures. Warmer temperatures are recipes for dryness and bushfires. These set of conditions mightily contribute to prolonged droughts.

(Video) Causes and Effects of Climate Change | National Geographic

  1. Human activities

Forests are critical components of the water cycle. They help store water, minimize evaporation, and contribute a great deal of atmospheric moisture in the form of transpiration. This, in essence, implies that deforestation, aimed at uplifting the economic status of a region, will expose vast quantities of water to evaporation. Cutting down trees will also take away the capability of the ground to retain water and allow desertification to occur easily. Deforestation also greatly minimizes watershed potential. Over-farming is another human activity contributing to droughts. Over-farming loosens the soil allowing erosion to take place. Soil erosion compromises the capacity of soil to hold water.

  1. Overexploitation of surface water resources

Specific areas are endowed with surface water resources like rivers and streams whose sources are watersheds and mountains. These surface water resources could dry out if their main sources are interfered with. Irrigation systems and hydroelectric dams are just some of the aspects that contribute to over-exploitation of surface water resources. They also cut off supply of water to downstream communities.

(Video) What Causes Tides?

Harmful Effects of Droughts

Economic Effects

Economic effects of droughts usually involve loss of money by governments, enterprises, families or individuals. Below is an outline of the main economic impacts of droughts:

  • Farmers will have to contend with spending huge sums of money for irrigation and watering animals. This involves drilling wells or buying water from far distances.
  • Low yields equal loss of substantial income. Low yields also lead to pay cuts and layoffs to farm workers.
  • Businesses and industries that produce farm equipment may close down since farmers have no money to purchase equipment.
  • Prolonged shortage of rains means drier conditions. This makes an area susceptible to wildfires. Wildfires can destroy property; devastate farms and burn down forests. Governments spend millions to control or put out wildfires annually. All this affects the economy of the region.
  • If water supply plummets, hydropower plants operate below capacity, and this means businesses have to pay more for electricity or incur the cost of using their own generators. Energy firms also lose out since they are unable to satisfy energy demands of the region. The government also loses a big chunk of tax revenue.
READ: Various Causes and Effects of Torandoes

Environmental Effects

  • Droughts lead to decimation of habitats. Water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds, lagoons, and creeks dry out, and this leads to death of water animals.
  • Soil moisture is critical to the breakdown of organic matter. Droughts compromise soil quality since there is less to zero organic activity because organisms have died.
  • Droughts magnify the impacts of desertification by wiping out any chance of land recovering.
  • The quality and health of surface water bodies such as rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds are enormously impacted. This endangers living organisms depending on the water for survival.
  • Wildlife walk long distances in search of water. They end up in new dangerous habitats that can lead to their demise.

Social Effects

The social effects of drought are the most potent since they directly impact humans. Many in the third world countries that have experienced drought can attest to their severity.

(Video) Ocean's Tides Explained

  • Water maintains our health. Sanitation and clean drinking water are critical to a healthy body. Droughts lead to malnutrition, anemia, and hunger.
  • Droughts trigger migrations. This means the area will lack young and working population, a critical ingredient to the development of any region.
  • Lack of control over when the drought ends can have far-reaching psychological effects like stress, anxiety, and depression. Social interaction reduces and community networks get broken.
Photo by: Marion, josea

FAQs

What are the causes and effects of a drought? ›

When rainfall is less than normal for a period of weeks to years, streamflows decline, 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. Learn more: USGS Drought website.

What are 5 effects of drought? ›

Drought can also cause long-term public health problems, including: Shortages of drinking water and poor quality drinking water. Impacts on air quality, sanitation and hygiene, and food and nutrition. More disease, such as West Nile Virus carried by mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water.

What are causes of drought essay? ›

Causes of Drought

One of the main reasons is deforestation. When there will be no trees, the water on land will evaporate at a faster rate. Similarly, it lessens the soil capacity to hold water resulting in evaporation. Moreover, lesser trees also mean lesser rainfall which eventually leads to drought.

What are 4 problems caused by droughts? ›

Health problems related to low water flows and poor water quality. Health problems related to dust. Loss of human life. Threat to public safety from an increased number of forest and range fires.

What are the effects of drought on the environment? ›

Drought can result in lower water levels in reservoirs, lakes and ponds, as well as reduced streamflow in rivers. This decrease in available water can also lead to a reduction of some wetlands, groundwater depletion and even impact water quality (e.g. salt concentration can increase).

What are positive effects of droughts? ›

The level of oxygen also decreases as bacteria decompose dead animals and plants. Therefore, droughts help to rebalance the health of wetlands. As water evaporates, nutrients remain behind. They enrich the sediment hence permitting new plants to develop and grow.

What is drought explain? ›

Drought is a prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle that can occur anywhere in the world. It is a slow-onset disaster characterized by the lack of precipitation, resulting in a water shortage. Drought can have a serious impact on health, agriculture, economies, energy and the environment.

What causes drought Wikipedia? ›

A drought is a natural event, caused by other weather events like El Niño and high-pressure systems. Drought can also be triggered by deforestation (people cutting down forests), by global warming, and by diverting rivers or emptying lakes. Drought is a natural disaster which usually takes place slowly.

What is drought Short answer? ›

A drought means that a place has less precipitation (rain or snow) than normal over a few months or even longer.

What are the 4 types of drought in South Africa? ›

Droughts are categorized into four major categories namely agricultural, meteorological, hydrological and socio-economic drought (Wilhite & Glantz 1985).

What is the most common type of drought? ›

Meteorological/Climatological Drought

Droughts caused due to meteorological factors are most common in nature and usually precede other types of droughts. Such an event is caused by a prolonged period of low precipitation.

Which type of disaster is drought? ›

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.

What are 2 types of droughts? ›

Meteorological Drought is based on the degree of dryness or rainfall deficit and the length of the dry period. Hydrological Drought is based on the impact of rainfall deficits on the water supply such as stream flow, reservoir and lake levels, and ground water table decline.

What are the different levels of drought? ›

The map uses five classifications: abnormally dry (D0), showing areas that may be going into or are coming out of drought, and four levels of drought: moderate (D1), severe (D2), extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4).

What is economic drought? ›

Socioeconomic drought occurs when water supply from a regional water resources system cannot meet the water demands. Even if a socioeconomic drought ends, the antecedent water deficit may continue to have impacts for some time, thus influencing the resilience of a regional water resources system.

How can we prevent drought? ›

Being mindful of the amount of water you use each day can be a powerful way to prevent droughts. Turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, watering your garden early in the morning so less water evaporates, and installing low-flow plumbing fixtures all are good ways to prevent wasted water.

How can we fight drought? ›

Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Turn irrigation down in fall and off in winter. Water manually in winter only if needed. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool.

What are the effects of drought on the economy? ›

In the agricultural industry, dry conditions and lack of precipitation can damage or kill crops, negatively impacting farmers' income. Crop loss also impacts consumers through increased food prices and the economic impacts of drought can be felt in other provinces and even countries.

What are the effects of drought on plants? ›

Typical drought stress symptoms in plants include leaf rolling, stunning plants, yellowing leaves, leaf scorching, permanent wilting [55].

What are the causes of drought in Africa? ›

Overexploitation of the land, felling of trees for firewood, overgrazing of grassy areas and inappropriate land use practices are causing the decrease of vegetation. Land becomes bare and unprotected, increasing the drought of the land. Ultimately this will lead to desertification and large areas of degraded land.

What are the causes of droughts on environment? ›

Drought can be caused by meteorological conditions such as a lack of rainfall or excess of heat. They can also be caused by human factors such as increased water demand or poor water management.

How does drought affect land? ›

Immediate drought impacts can include visibly dry vegetation and lower water levels in lakes and reservoirs. Longer-term impacts, such as land subsidence, seawater intrusion, and damage to ecosystems, can be harder to see, but more costly to manage in the future.

How do droughts affect humans and animals? ›

Drought also affect the environment in many different ways. Plants and animals depend on water, just like we peoples do. When drought occurs, their food supply can shrink and their habitats can be damaged. Increase in disease in animals, because of reduced food and water supplies.

What are the social impact of drought? ›

The social impacts of drought are usually indirect, that is, they are a consequence of direct impacts of drought, such as low water levels in drinking water reservoirs and increased dust. Drought can affect human health, result in conflicts and impact our quality of life.

How does drought affect farmers? ›

Livestock farmers suffer losses of their animals due to unavailability of enough water. This therefore has a large impact on the profit margins of producers and their livelihoods, influencing how much labour they can keep and repayment of their loans.

Why are droughts important? ›

Drought can also create significant economic and social problems. The lack of rain can result in crop loss, a decrease in land prices, and unemployment due to declines in production. As water levels in rivers and lakes fall, water-supply problems can develop. These can bring about other social problems.

Is drought a natural disaster? ›

In the United States, drought is the second-most costly form of natural disaster (behind hurricanes), exacting an average toll of $9.6 billion in damage and loss per event.

Where do droughts occur? ›

Droughts can occur in any region of the world, including the U.S. Today, droughts in the U.S. are concentrated in the west part of the country. States like California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona are experiencing unprecedented heat and dry weather.

How does climate change cause drought? ›

How climate change contributes to drought: Warmer temperatures enhance evaporation, which reduces surface water and dries out soils and vegetation. This makes periods with low precipitation drier than they would be in cooler conditions. Climate change is also altering the timing of water availability.

When was the first drought? ›

The earliest drought recorded and observed in the United States was in 1621. The most well-known American drought was the Dust Bowl on the Great Plains from 1931 to 1936.

What are the main causes of drought and floods? ›

The lack of precipitation as well as heavy downpours cause disasters of different types, ranging from extreme drought to unprecedented flood. Climate changes, environmental degradation, population growth, urbanization and augmenting poverty cause human society to be more vulnerable to flood and drought disasters.

What are the causes of drought Class 9? ›

  • Land and water temperatures cause drought. As overall temperatures increase more water evaporates and severe weather conditions increase. ...
  • Air circulation and weather patterns also cause drought. ...
  • Soil moisture levels also contribute to drought. ...
  • Drought can also be a supply and demand of water issue.

What causes a flood? ›

Flooding typically occurs when prolonged rain falls over several days, when intense rain falls over a short period of time, or when an ice or debris jam causes a river or stream to overflow onto the surrounding area. Flooding can also result from the failure of a water control structure, such as a levee or dam.

What causes drought in South Africa? ›

Drought in South Africa caused by El Niño, human action and climate change. The present drought in Cape Town has been caused by extremely poor rainfall in recent months, with the result that the water supplies are under enormous pressure.

What are the causes of desertification? ›

'Climatic variations' and 'Human activities' can be regarded as the two main causes of desertification. removal of the natural vegetation cover(by taking too much fuel wood), agricultural activities in the vulnerable ecosystems of arid and semi-arid areas, which are thus strained beyond their capacity.

What is the first type of drought to set in? ›

The first type of drought is meteorological drought. A meteorological drought is related to how much rain falls compared to usual conditions at that location.

What are the effects of drought Class 6? ›

Drought condition results in drying up of wells, lakes, ponds and thereby creating water scarcity. Droughts result in the evaporation of water from the soil leaving the soil dry and patchy. Droughts result in mass death of plants and animals due to dehydration. Droughts affect agriculture and lessen food production.

What are the effects of a drought? ›

Immediate drought impacts can include visibly dry vegetation and lower water levels in lakes and reservoirs. Longer-term impacts, such as land subsidence, seawater intrusion, and damage to ecosystems, can be harder to see, but more costly to manage in the future.

What are the causes and effects of drought in South Africa? ›

Drought in South Africa caused by El Niño, human action and climate change. The present drought in Cape Town has been caused by extremely poor rainfall in recent months, with the result that the water supplies are under enormous pressure.

What causes and effects of drought in the region? ›

Lack or insufficient rainfall (or precipitation)

This is the major cause of droughts in most regions. A long-drawn-out period without rainfall can cause an area to dry out. The quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere pretty much impacts the precipitation of an area.

What are the effects of drought on the environment? ›

Drought can result in lower water levels in reservoirs, lakes and ponds, as well as reduced streamflow in rivers. This decrease in available water can also lead to a reduction of some wetlands, groundwater depletion and even impact water quality (e.g. salt concentration can increase).

What are 4 problems caused by droughts? ›

Health problems related to low water flows and poor water quality. Health problems related to dust. Loss of human life. Threat to public safety from an increased number of forest and range fires.

What are positive effects of droughts? ›

The level of oxygen also decreases as bacteria decompose dead animals and plants. Therefore, droughts help to rebalance the health of wetlands. As water evaporates, nutrients remain behind. They enrich the sediment hence permitting new plants to develop and grow.

What are the effects of drought on the economy? ›

In the agricultural industry, dry conditions and lack of precipitation can damage or kill crops, negatively impacting farmers' income. Crop loss also impacts consumers through increased food prices and the economic impacts of drought can be felt in other provinces and even countries.

What are the effects of drought in Africa? ›

Macroeconomic impacts
Primary impactsSecondary impacts
Reduced forest, crop, and range land productivityReduced income and food shortages
Reduced water levelsLower accessibility to water
Reduced cloud coverPlant scorching
Increased daytime temperatureIncreased fire hazard
27 more rows

What are the main causes of drought and desertification? ›

Human activities, including deforestation and the overexploitation of aquifers, accelerate desertification. The effects of climate change, which is also driven by humans, and the destruction it causes in the form of extreme weather phenomena such as droughts, hurricanes, fires, etc.

What is the cause of drought in Africa? ›

Overexploitation of the land, felling of trees for firewood, overgrazing of grassy areas and inappropriate land use practices are causing the decrease of vegetation. Land becomes bare and unprotected, increasing the drought of the land. Ultimately this will lead to desertification and large areas of degraded land.

What are the main causes of drought and floods? ›

The lack of precipitation as well as heavy downpours cause disasters of different types, ranging from extreme drought to unprecedented flood. Climate changes, environmental degradation, population growth, urbanization and augmenting poverty cause human society to be more vulnerable to flood and drought disasters.

What causes drought Wikipedia? ›

A drought is a natural event, caused by other weather events like El Niño and high-pressure systems. Drought can also be triggered by deforestation (people cutting down forests), by global warming, and by diverting rivers or emptying lakes. Drought is a natural disaster which usually takes place slowly.

What are the effects of drought on agriculture? ›

In most countries, agricultural production relies highly on weather conditions and water availability. As drought impacts livestock, it can result in poor productivity, decreased fertility, poor animal health and a rise in livestock mortality [4].

What are the causes of droughts on environment? ›

Drought can be caused by meteorological conditions such as a lack of rainfall or excess of heat. They can also be caused by human factors such as increased water demand or poor water management.

What is drought explain? ›

Drought is a prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle that can occur anywhere in the world. It is a slow-onset disaster characterized by the lack of precipitation, resulting in a water shortage. Drought can have a serious impact on health, agriculture, economies, energy and the environment.

What are solutions of drought? ›

Protection and use of springs; Cloud seeding; Evaporation suppression; Desalination of brackish groundwater or sea water; and Effluent treatment and re-use. Developing and integrating other sources like groundwater, desalination and re-use, etc., with surface systems also to enhance water security.

Videos

1. Ocean's Tides Explained
(AtomicSchool)
2. Solar Eclipse | The Dr. Binocs Show | Educational Videos For Kids
(Peekaboo Kidz)
3. Why Are Planetary Orbits Elliptical?
(Science ABC)
4. 10 Strange Effects of Solar Eclipse
(4 Ever Green)
5. Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Tides
(StarTalk)
6. Earth's Rotation & Revolution: Crash Course Kids 8.1
(Crash Course Kids)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated: 08/19/2022

Views: 6007

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.