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What is the difference between drought or desertification?

What is the difference between drought or desertification?

Drought can be defined, in simple terms, as a shortage of water supply. We normally hear about it in the summertime, when we experience it in some arid places of the planet and governments put water use restrictions in place to solve it. The truth is, drought affects different parts of the world every day.

There are 4 different types of drought; the first one is, meteorological drought; which is specific to different regions, depending on the amount of yearly precipitation that’s average for that area. Hydrological drought refers to persistently low water volumes in streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Finally, we have a Socioeconomic drought that occurs when the demand for water exceeds the supply.

Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years since 1850. The total temperature increase has been 0.76°C. 

Global warming is making drought occurrences more common and frequent; in fact drought risks increase significantly in the Mediterranean, central Europe, southern Africa, and the Amazon. It’s worth mentioning that other regions like South East Asia see no significant change under any future scenario. The risk of droughts that lasts several years would also increase for areas like the Mediterranean, even within the 1.5°C-2°C  increases. 

Therefore, it’s fair to say that water resources are linked to climate. Projections show how they are likely to increase 10-40% in tropical areas and high latitudes while it would decrease by 10-30% in dry regions. 

What would the consequences be?

Soil properties would change due to the temperature increase and many African regions would be severely affected as well as its agricultural landscape. A similar effect would be seen in the dryer areas of Latin America. 

At lower latitudes, crop productivity is expected to decrease and in Southern Europe, for example, we would experience a reduction in water availability, and therefore, productivity decreases. 

What can be done about it? 

Whereas it’s taking personal action to mitigate global warming or supporting organizations that work directly to stop desertification and drought, we can all make an impact. 

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