Jeff Basara University of Oklahoma Jordan Christian University of Oklahoma
Flash droughts develop fast, and when they hit at the wrong time, they can devastate a region’s agriculture.
They’re also becoming increasingly common as the planet warms.
A new study released on May 25th, 2023 shows that in the next decade, the risk of flash-droughts is likely to rise in major agriculture regions all over the world.
Cropland in North America and Europe that was at risk of flash drought 32% annually a few short years ago, could be at risk of 53% by the end of this century. Food production, water and energy supplies would be under increased pressure. Costs of damages will also go up. In 2017, a flash drought in Dakotas and Montana caused US$2.6billion in damage to agriculture in the United States.
What causes flash droughts?
All droughts begin with the cessation of precipitation. What’s interesting about flash droughts is how fast they reinforce themselves, with some help from the warming climate.
The soil will lose moisture very quickly when the weather is dry and hot. As the air becomes dryer, it pulls moisture away from the soil.