This document is identifies the actions that the Federal agencies, in collaboration with individuals and organizations at all levels, must take in order to meet the Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction as they relate to drought hazards.
Very little rainfall and record-breaking high temperatures presented Missouri with many challenges last year. State agencies, local health departments and volunteer organizations were quick to recognize the critical situation and come together to take action for those in need.
Droughts occur when less precipitation than normal falls for an extended period of time. Water-supply droughts are defined as times when the volume of water normally needed is greater than the volume available.
The drought emergency ground water investigation of 1980-1981 in Morris and Passaic Counties, New Jersey was undertaken to evaluate the potential of using unconsolidated sand and gravel valley fill aquifers to augment stream-flow of the Roackaway and Pequannock Rivers to reservoirs of the Newark and Jersey City water systems.
Environmentally and economically, drought is one of the most costly natural disasters in North America. Yet it rarely gets the same public attention that other, more spectacular, natural disasters receive. While tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes leave behind well-defined swaths of devastation in relatively short order, droughts whittle away at water quality and quantity, topsoil, crop yields, and other natural and socioeconomic resources over months and years, even decades. In any given year, drought conditions of some degree are occurring somewhere in North America. For 1988--midway through a three-year drought in the central and eastern United States--the estimate of national drought damage was a record $40 billion (National Climatic Data Center, 2012), or $78.5 billion in 2013 dollars. In 2011, losses in Kansas alone exceeded $1.7 billion (Kansas Department of Agriculture, 2011).
The semiarid climate of the Great Plains is characterized by variability. Wet and dry periods are natural features of the climatic system, and significantly influence water use and demand. From both an agricultural and a water supply perspective, extremely dry conditions -- droughts -- are of particular importance. A drought may be defined as a period of abnormally dry weather that persists long enough to produce a serious hydrologic imbalance (for example, crop damage, water supply shortage, etc.). The severity of a drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration and the size of the affected area (see http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/drought.htm).
Groundwater is an important part of the global fresh water supply and is affected by climate. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are working with local, State, Federal, and international partners to understand how the availability and sustainability of groundwater resources in the United States will be affected by climate variability and change. This fact sheet describes climate variability and change, important groundwater resources of the Nation, and how USGS research is helping to answer critical questions about the effects of climate on groundwater.
In the Southeast, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are researching issues through technical studies of water availability and quality, geologic processes (marine, coastal, and terrestrial), geographic complexity, and biological resources. The USGS is prepared to tackle multifaceted questions associated with global climate change and resulting weather patterns such as drought through expert scientific skill, innovative research approaches, and accurate information technology.
Drought strikes somewhere in the United States every year, turning green landscapes brown as precipitation falls below normal levels and water supplies dwindle. Drought is typically a temporary climatic aberration, but it is also an insidious natural hazard. It might last for weeks, months, or years and may have many negative effects. Drought can threaten crops, livestock, and livelihoods, stress wildlife and habitats, and increase wildfire risks and threats to human health. Drought conditions can vary tremendously from place to place and week to week. Accurate drought monitoring is essential to understand a drought's progression and potential effects, and to provide information necessary to support drought mitigation decisions. It is also crucial in light of climate change where droughts could become more frequent, severe, and persistent.