If you are curious why drought is such a dangerous act of nature and what could it do and how could it influence our lives, then read this article to get the main drought info!
Destructive phenomena of nature are extremely difficult to predict. They can occur at any time, occur at different scales, and they are all unique in their way. What are the effects of drought, that can change our usual life and turn our cities into a desert? Drought is a dangerous natural phenomenon that can lead to loss of life and destruction of living conditions. Although drought develops rather slowly, it can eventually affect several countries and even entire continents.
Drought is a prolonged period of no rainfall and consistently high temperatures. Lack of rain, high temperatures, and sustained hot weather with low humidity are all factors that can define droughts. Yet, it also depends on the region, because what is normal for one region – high temperatures and low precipitation- is an extreme event for another region. In regions with a stable dry and hot climate, people take into account normal weather conditions and grow crops that are resistant to drought events or conduct a set of irrigation measures, which does not lead to loss of crops. In regions where normal weather conditions allow a variety of crops, including more demanding moisture in dry years it is possible to lose a significant part or all of the crop.
This natural cataclysm can last from 4-5 weeks to several months. The consequences of drought can take on catastrophic proportions. On our planet, especially in places with arid climates, drought itself is not a rare phenomenon. They cause irreparable damage to agriculture. In times of such natural disasters the crops die off over vast areas, famine ensues and these events lead to millions of people’s deaths. Desertification of lands and death of all life on the planet – this is how we can formulate the dangerous effects of drought on a global scale.
High anticyclone, a climatic phenomenon, can be associated with a drought. In essence, a high anticyclone is the formation of an area of high pressure in the atmosphere. This anticyclone has the following characteristics: warm, clear weather, lack of wind and precipitation, and low air mass mobility. Well, how does drought form?
Drought begins with the establishment of a persistent anticyclone, which invades from the northern hemisphere and carries with it cold masses of Arctic air, characterized by lower temperatures and lack of moisture. This entails the establishment of sunny weather without precipitation. Solar radiation strongly warms the layers of the atmosphere close to the ground, thus increasing air temperature and accelerating the intensity of moisture evaporation from the ground surface.
Humidity decreases, resulting in a deficit of moisture. Circular movements of air masses in the anticyclone warm air even faster, further increasing the lack of moisture, which is not replenished due to lack of precipitation. Thus, cold northern air within a short period changes into hot and sultry air. Further, due to the inflow of new air masses from the Arctic, the drought is intensified.
In temperate latitudes, the steppe zone is more vulnerable to droughts than the forest-steppe zone, for example. According to scientists’ observations, the drought can even be recorded in forested areas, however just once every two or three hundred years. Droughts occur regularly in the sub equatorial and subtropical zones, as precipitation in these regions happens during the rainy season.
During drought, the access of water to the plant’s root system of plants is terminated, the inflow of water does not cover the normal consumption of moisture, the plant tissues suffer from the lack of water saturation, and the normal conditions of its growth are disturbed. Autumn drought destroys winter crops, spring drought can kill early grain crops, summer drought harms early and late grain crops, as well as the fruit plants.
Among all terrifying drought facts, there is one that considered being the most dangerous: drought can lead to ignitions and prolonged fires in steppes or forests, as well as peat fires involving extremely dangerous smoke. Drought is devastating for people. According to statistics, within the last forty years in Africa, drought has caused the death of approximately one million people.
According to scientists, this natural anomaly in the past could be the cause of the death of highly developed civilizations, and the prolonged dry period could generate cannibalism among some people. From the lack of water came terrible epidemics that claimed the lives of entire cities. Hot weather and lack of rain caused severe fires that destroyed forests, fields with crops, and people’s homes.
To prevent the drought, we should know how does a drought form and what are the signals. The formation of the drought was explained above, and now the signals will be described. The probability of a drought can be predicted by calculation of the volume of snow cover and measuring moisture reserves in the soil.
For instance, if, during autumn, the moisture reserve of soil does not exceed 50% of the average annual level or the thickness of snow does not even close to the average values for a multi-year period of measurements, then there is a high possibility of drought. These are the main signals that some actions should be undertaken in order to prevent the disaster. All that drought information can help us understand what could be done in order not to lead to such a devastating natural disaster.
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