According to researchers, there is a high likelihood of flash droughts becoming more frequent in the future.
Have you heard of rapid onset droughts, known as flash droughts? These types of droughts were previously uncommon, but in the last two decades, they have become more frequent and severe. Due to their sudden onset, they pose a challenge for preparedness.
In Hawaii, a sudden and severe drought caused the grasslands to dry up, making the wildfires on Maui even more destructive this year. In 2012, during the height of corn farming, a rapid drought affected large portions of the US, causing a significant decrease in crop production.
Professor Emily Black, a researcher at the University of Reading, has been utilizing meteorological information and climate simulations to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to the occurrence of sudden droughts. Additionally, she is examining the effects of the climate crisis on the frequency of these events.
The results of her study, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, indicate that flash droughts are primarily caused by unusually low levels of humidity and precipitation. Interestingly, she also discovered that heatwaves do not cause flash droughts, but rather, flash droughts can lead to heatwaves.
The findings also indicate that the Earth’s rising temperatures will lead to an increased chance of flash droughts in the next few decades. The regions most at risk for severe changes include Europe, the continental United States, eastern Brazil, and southern Africa.