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Drought Impacted by Climate Change by City Tech Blogger Mahoutin Godonou

 

Climate change is a critical issue that is affecting humanity. If something is not done soon, it will cause more damage than is being acknowledged today. There are many issues that climate change brings about, including heatwaves, sea level rise, storms, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and drought, to name a few. Each  aforementioned disaster will affect the climate system, of which there are five components: the atmosphere (air), the cryosphere (ice and permafrost), the lithosphere (earth’s rock), the biosphere (living things), and the hydrosphere (water). Drought is one of the most critical issues that is impacting the hydrosphere. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, drought is defined as “a lack or insufficiency of rain that eventually causes a considerable hydrologic (water) imbalance, and consequently, water shortages, crop damage, streamflow reduction, and depletion of groundwater and soil moisture”.

Although they are invisible in and of themselves, a drought’s damage is evident. We can see that high temperatures are causing a high amount of evaporation and transpiration, and even frequent rain showers are not producing sufficient water to cover the quantity lost; the result is a borderline crisis that is causing crop deficiencies. In the northern region of Africa and the western regions of America, where farming is prevalent, this phenomenon is obvious. Drought is unpredictable and irregular, but when it occurs, it impacts regular rainfalls. It can happen almost anywhere, but drought is most marked in humid and sub-humid climate regions. Ongoing, long periods of droughts of this kind are possible in drier regions, and they may be expected to intensify in the next coming years resulting in an inadequate rainfall.

Drought can also be  seasonal. While it can occur in summer, wherein regions have a regular annual rainfall, they may also occur in winter, which can result in heavy snowfalls that become compressed and harder to be removed. In the summer season, to produce  a successful growth of crops, farmers must use their own judgment to calculate when to adjust their water consumption.

A much more severe form of drought is the “permanent drought”. It can be identified by long periods of aridity. In this case, only plants that are adapted to survive in extreme dry weather conditions can live, and they are rare.  Because the soil is so arid and the temperature  so high, vegetation cannot survive without repetitive irrigation.

It may be noted, however, that there are other factors that contribute to drought. As Dr. Michael Hayes asks, “Other than lack of rain, what’s causing drought?” Drought can be caused by humans and by unprecedented natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and intensely hot temperatures. Human activities that can cause extreme damage to the environment include deforestation,  urban sprawl, migration, and fires. Forests are important elements of rainfall and they can also protect humans from radiation. When forests are destroyed or burned, animals suffer from a lack of shelter and food. This phenomenon has been seen mostly in African countries, but fires are becoming more common elsewhere. In addition, the migration of humans or animals from one region to another can create a scarcity of water; therefore the amount of water that is needed to  sustain the overpopulated region will decrease, resulting in drought. Regarding natural disasters, earthquakes and tsunamis can create a lack of water both where they occur or in other regions because of the dislocation of water. Lastly, the high temperatures as we are facing today are a major sign of future droughts. “The global temperatures have been above average for the last 38 years, with nine of the ten hottest years occurring since 2000” (C. A. Sproles).

Today, almost everywhere around the world, geologists are finding evidence of droughts, and they are  obviously causing major damage in all seven continents: North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Antarctica. According to the 2014 Global Analysis Annual Report  from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the total global land and sea surface temperatures were a record 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. The report goes on to say, “Europe experienced its warmest years in the last 500 years, 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and 19 European countries reported their hottest years on record”. With regard to the United States, Southern states are faring no better: “It’s been widely noted that Georgia is being required to share its water with Florida. How come (Dr. Michael Hayes)?” Africa is the most vulnerable of all regions. Per Ning Zeng, “Since the late 1960s, the Sahel—a semi-arid region in West Africa between the Sahara Desert and the Guinea coast rainforest—has experienced a drought of unprecedented severity in recorded history.”

Climate change is a serious problem today, and the world needs a solution to its problems. Water is a crucial life element, and the lack of it- drought- should be the first priority on the list of climate change issues to solve. Water has to be reserved in a large quantity across the world and used according to its availability in each country or region. Humans should monitor their own actions toward the environment; forests have to be preserved and promoted; and the study of drought has to be promoted as well. Without further delay, this has to be fixed.

 

 

Carmen E. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8th ed., “internet”. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009

Sproles, C. A. “State of the climate: Global Analysis—Annual 2014.” CHOICE: Current reviews for Academic Libraries, July 2015, p. 1872. Gale in context: Biography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/a419532707/BIC

Drought in south is Normal part of Climate. “Morning Edition, 23 Oct. 2007. Gale in Context: Geography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A170173214/BIC

Zeng, Ning. “Drought in the Sahel.” Science, Vol. 302, no. 5647, 2003, p. 999+. Gale In context: biography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A111165935/BIC?

 

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