A drought is a lack of precipitation in a specific geographical region. The drought is caused by a stalled high-pressure system, which pushes low clouds and air currents away, leaving only sunshine.

Depending on the severity of the drought, damage may be done to not only on the water supply, but also the living things that depend on water (NOAA, 2008).

The Effects

Most of the damage done by droughts are on our crops and native vegetation. The dry, dieing vegetation soon becomes fuel for wildfires. Once the wildfires sweep through an area of dried crops or vegetation, the soil is left bare with no roots holding it together, making it very prone to sudden mudslides.

Contributing Factors

One of the main contributers to droughts is global warming. The rise in the average temperature over the last couple of years has increased the evaporation rate in soils and in rivers and lakes (NRDC, 2007). Researchers have also seen a double in the past 30 years of the area of land stricken by droughts (UCAR, 2005).

The increase in the population has also cotributed to the severity of droughts. with more consumers, there is a greater demand for freshwater.


One way scientist are trying to combat the effects of drought is by developing hybrid species of plants that are more accustomed to arid and semi-arid regions (Ihsan, 2006).

Many countries have also pioneered desalination plants. Here, salt water can be converted to fresh water through reverse osmosis, but the process is very costly and time consuming.

Photos and Diagrams


Wildfires in North Carolina

Smoke rising from East coast of North Carolina, crossing into Virginia


Ihsan, U., Henboob-ur-Rahman, Muhammad, A., & Yusuf, Z. (2006, November). Genotypic variation for drought tolerance in cotton. Flora-Morphology, Distribution, Ecology of Plants. Retrieved on February 25th, 2008 through ScienceDirect database.

National Integrated Drought Information System. (2007, November 1). What is NIDIS? United States.

National Resources Defense Council. (2007, September 21st). Issues: global warming. The consequences of global warming. Retrieved April 15th, 2008.

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (2005, January 10th). Drought's growing reach: NCAR study points to global warming as key fator. Retrieved April 15th, 2008.

Further Reading

To learn more about the effects of droughts, visit:

The Future is Drying Up
An article from the NY Times

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