Friday, November 27, 2020
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Scientists: ‘Severe droughts experienced recently…can no longer be seen as purely natural hazards’ – Land use & water management contribute

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Changes to the way people use the water and the landscape contribute to extreme water shortages.

The University’s Water Science Research Group is leading key researchers from 13 organisations in eight countries to redefine how the world should study and tackle drought. The researchers propose broadening the definition of drought to include water shortage caused and made worse — or sometimes improved — by human activity.

…severe droughts experienced recently in countries such as China, Brazil and the United States can no longer be seen as purely natural hazards

The current California drought has severely affected the state’s environment and economy. Storing water in reservoirs and extracting groundwater increase evaporation and decrease groundwater levels, making the drought worse. It demonstrates how strongly water and society are intertwined during drought periods.

Europe suffered a severe drought last summer with high heat causing soils and plants to dry out helping to spread wildfires. Agricultural and hydropower production decreased, whilst rivers fell to record low levels and inland water transport shut down in some places. Water and drought policies vary across the EU and more work is needed to understand their influence on drought.

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