From 2014 until the beginning of 2017 California suffered through a major drought. It was a hot topic in the news, and NWNL conducted five Spotlight Expeditions to document and bring attention to that drought and its significance. But what exactly is a drought? What causes droughts? What are the effects of droughts? What does a drought look like?
Boat launch, Kinbasket Lake Reservoir, BC, Canada. 2007
Kinbasket Lake Reservoir, BC, Canada. 2007
Basicplanet.com defines a drought as a “lengthy period of time, stretching months or even years in which time land has a decrease in water supply.” Droughts usually occur when rain doesn’t fall often enough during prolonged periods of warmer temperatures, causing high pressure winds and and reduced water content.
Aerial of dry river bed, Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia. 2006
El Molo Swamp in Mau Forest during Kenya drought of 2009
Human activity can also be the cause of drought. Deforestation, farming, excess irrigation and erosion can lead to drought. Climate change also creates drought. Rises in average global temperatures greatly effect the possibility of drought, by reducing water content in the air.
Rio Hondo River, a tributary of Los Angeles River, California. 2015
Dried up succulent in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. 2014
There are many more affects of drought than most people realize. The most obvious affect is the shortage of water. Because of this, crops and animals will die. Droughts lead to malnutrition, dehydration and deadly famines. Wildfires and dust storms are much more probable and common effects. Industries that rely on water are forced to cutback, thus forcing people into unemployment. Wars have occurred due to droughts.
Signs posted during the California Drought, 2014 – 2016.
Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.
All photos © Alison M. Jones.