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What is a drought?

Droughts are not very easy to define. A drought is not just a lack of water for a period of time. In fact there are a whole range of types of drought including; agricultural (farming), meteorological (weather), hydrological (surface water) and socio-economic (ones which affect humans).

Agricultural Drought

A Combine HarvesterThis is a drought which affects how farmers can use their land. An agricultural drought usually means there is not enough water for the crops to grow as there is a lack of soil moisture. It can also affect livestock such as cows and sheep.

Hydrological Drought

Water DropletsHydrological droughts are ones which there is a lack of water at the surface of the earth, resulting in less water in streams, lakes and reservoirs and can impact on the use of water for houses and industry

Meteorological Drought

DropsThis is usually simply defined as a period of time where there has been less rain recorded. Rainfall amounts can vary by duration (i.e. time the rain fell for) and the intensity of rainfall (how hard it was raining). Meteorological drought is usually recorded in the time there has been little or no rain for e.g. months or years.

Socio-economic Drought

Pound SignA Socioeconomic drought is when physical water shortages affects the lives of people; such as their health and quality of life. It can also affect the supply of food and materials and so affect the economy.


What is a desert?

A desert is an area of land where rainfall is not sufficient to support vegetation. There are usually large temperature difference between day and night, known as the diurnal temperature range. Deserts can be hot or cold!

What is Desertification?

This is when an area on the boundary of a desert which loses its vegetation and the land becomes filled with sand dunes. Possible causes include climate change and variability, human pressure on the land and overgrazing by livestock (animals).

Where are the Main Deserts in the World?

Deserts are areas of very low rainfall and are often described as drought regions of the globe. But do you know where they are?

A World Map of Deserts

Start exploring

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