The rapid development of unexpected drought, called flash drought, can severely impact agricultural and ecological systems with ripple effects that extend even further.
The rapid development of unexpected drought, called flash drought, can severely impact agricultural and ecological systems with ripple effects that extend even further. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are assessing how our warming climate will affect the frequency of flash droughts and the risk to croplands globally.
Jordan Christian, a postdoctoral researcher, is the lead author of the study, “Global projections of flash drought show increased risk in a warming climate,” published today in Nature Communications Earth and Environment.
“In this study, projected changes in flash drought frequency and cropland risk from flash drought are quantified using global climate model simulations,” Christian said. “We find that flash drought occurrence is expected to increase globally among all scenarios, with the sharpest increases seen in scenarios with higher radiative forcing and greater fossil fuel usage.”
Radiative forcing describes the imbalance of radiation where more radiation enters Earth’s atmosphere than leaves it. Like burning fossil fuels, these activities are among the most significant contributors to climate warming. The changing climate is expected to increase severe weather events from storms, flash flooding, flash droughts and more.
Read more at University of Oklahoma
Image: A figure showing the impact of a flash drought on a grassland in Oklahoma. The photos on the top row show the impact of the flash drought on the ecosystem compared with photos of the same area without flash drought impacts (bottom row). (Credit: Image provided by the University of Oklahoma)