Environmental Impact of Drought

Drought, characterized by a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall and a shortage of water, has far-reaching implications for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. Primarily, it strikes at the heart of SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) by reducing water availability for personal, agricultural, and industrial use. It also threatens SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), as drought conditions can devastate crop yields, increase food insecurity and potentially lead to famine. Drought aligns closely with SDG 13 (Climate Action) as it is a significant climate change impact that requires adaptive and resilient solutions. The vulnerability of communities, particularly in developing nations, to drought resonates with SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), as it can exacerbate economic disparities and push those on the margins into deeper poverty. Drought's disruption of ecosystems also impacts SDG 15 (Life on Land), affecting biodiversity and land health.

This chapter aligns with Goal 14: Life Below Water and Goal 13: Climate Action by exploring the potential of marine renewables, including wind, wave, and solar, for providing long-term sustainable energy sources.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 50, June 2021

Droughts are significant drivers of land degradation, which in turn has adverse effects on resource-dependent rural populations and can potentially lead to livelihood losses and subsequent migration out of affected areas. Linkages between land degradation and migration are complex and not particularly well documented, as they occur within a larger context of multi-scale interactions of socio-economic, political, demographic, and environmental processes. Given these uncertainties, further research in this field is needed.

This chapter advances SDG 6, 12, and 13 by explaining the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE Follow On (GRACE-FO) missions that have greatly benefitted the modeling and monitoring of groundwater storage changes and drought at the global scale. In this chapter, we first review environmental controls on the temporal variability of groundwater using in situ data. We then describe an approach that infuses GRACE and GRACE-FO observations into a land surface model for assessing groundwater storage changes and drought globally.
This chapter advances SDG 6, 11, and 13 by explaining how droughts have long played a major disruptive role in history, threatening the stability of human society. Here, we briefly review the relationship between civilizations and drought, stressing the link between agriculture and drought impacts.

Current Directions in Water Scarcity Research, Volume 2, 2019, Pages 195-210

This book chapter addresses goals 1, 8 and 15 by focusing on rainfall index, which links insurance payouts to historical rainfall data from reliable weather gauging stations, and how it relates to crop and livestock losses. The system works in such a way that if the data shows that the rainfall amount is below the threshold, the insurance pays out. If implemented effectively, it has the potential to revolutionise access to formal insurance by smallholders.
This book chapter addresses goals 6, 8 and 13 by documenting experiences that many dryland agricultural regions can expect to encounter in coming decades as changing climate, demographic characteristics, and socioeconomic factors take hold.

Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 28, 1 January 2017

This paper discusses the CO2 footprint of California's drought during 2012–2014. We show that California drought significantly increased CO2 emissions of the energy sector by around 22 million metric tons, indicating 33% increase in the annual CO2 emissions compared to pre-drought conditions. We argue that CO2 emission of climate extremes deserve more attention, because their cumulative impacts on CO2 emissions are staggering. Most countries, including the United States, do not have a comprehensive a nationwide energy-water plan to minimize their CO2 emissions.