Drought

Lake Chad has shrunk dramatically over the last four decades due to a decrease in rainfall and an increase in the amount of water used for irrigation projects. Its surface area was 25 000 sq km in the early 1960s, compared with 1350 sq km in 2001. Image acquired 19 December 2007 by the MERIS (Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) instrument aboard ESA’s Envisat satellite. Image: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Definition

Drought may be considered in general terms a consequence of a reduction over an extended period of time in the amount of precipitation that is received, usually over a season or more in length. It is a temporary aberration, unlike aridity, which is a permanent feature of the climate. Seasonal aridity (i.e., a well-defined dry season) also needs to be distinguished from drought. It should be noted that drought is a normal, recurrent feature of climate, and it occurs in virtually all climatic regimes (UNDDR).

Facts and figures

Droughts are often predictable: periods of unusual dryness are normal in all weather systems. Advance warning is possible (WHO).

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the world will be living under water stressed conditions (UNCCD).

Drought can be defined according to meteorological, agricultural, hydrological and socio-economic criteria.

  • Meteorological, when precipitation departs from the long-term normal
  • Agricultural, when there is insufficient soil moisture to meet the needs of a particular crop at a particular time. Agricultural drought is typically evident after meteorological drought but before a hydrological drought
  • Hydrological, when deficiencies occur in surface and subsurface water supplies
  • Socio-economic, when human activities are affected by reduced precipitation and related water availability. This form of drought associates human activities with elements of meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological drought (FAO).

Related content

Data Source

Advisory Support

UN-SPIDER conducted a Institutional Strengthening Mission in Sri Lanka from 24 to 28 April 2017. Th ISM was a follow-up to the technical advisory mission to Sri Lanka in 2011. Both the original mission and the follow-up activity were hosted by the Ministry of Disaster Management of Sri Lanka and its associated Disaster Management Centre.

Mission dates: 24/04/2017 to 28/04/2017

This mission was conducted with the Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs as a way to strengthen the link between the National Emergency Commission of the Dominican Republic and UN-SPIDER, and took place from 18 July 2016 to 22 July 2016 in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Mission dates: 18/07/2016 to 22/07/2016

Upon the request of the Government of Ethiopia, UN-SPIDER carried out a Institutional Strengthening Mission to Addis Ababa from 26 to 30 August 2019 to support the country in making use of the benefits of space technology for drought early warning. The team of experts from UN-SPIDER and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL) at the University of Bonn, a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office, met a wide range of stakeholders in the country to identify how space-based information is currently used in the context of disaster management and drought monitoring in particular, and to make recommendations as to how to further strengthen the use of space technologies in these areas.

Mission dates: 26/08/2019 to 30/08/2019
Regional Support Offices mentioned:

Event

WCDM 2020 picture of floods. Image: WCDM

World Congress on Disaster Management (WCDM) is a unique initiative of DMICS to bring researchers, policy makers and practitioners from around the world in the same platform to discuss various challenging issues of disaster risk management. The mission of WCDM is to promote interaction of science, policy and practices to enhance understanding of risks and advance actions for reducing risks and building... read more

Global Congress on Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction logo. Image: CEED
The major thrives of this congress will be discuss and develop an integrated Climate Resilience Ecosystem that will address Future... read more
EO4SD logo. Image ESA

The European Space Agency’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) Climate Resilience Cluster is hosting a free webinar to provide insight about the potential of Earth Observation (EO) to support climate-resilient decision making at the regional and national scale.

Drought is one of the main natural causes of agricultural, economic, and environmental damage. The effects of drought on the... read more

News

JAXA Climate Rainfall Watch. Image: JAXA.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released the JAXA Climate Rainfall Watch website to monitor extreme weather and climate over the world. The website provides hourly global measurements of precipitation as well as forecasts about heavy rainfall and drought in different temporal scales (daily, pentad, weekly, 10-days and monthly). The satellite-based global rainfall maps produce highly accurate measurements that can help better understand the changing climate, improve forecasts of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, minimize their damage and strengthen early warning systems.... read more

Publishing date: 15/04/2020

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