Droughts may be one of the worst national disasters known to occur to humankind and can last for lengthy periods of time ie. spanning for months to years during which less have less water supply and eventually dry up. It occurs especially during the dry season and also if a particular area hasn’t gotten any rainfall in quite a long time.
While droughts can greatly affect agriculture and farm lands, it can cause serious and extreme damages for both wildlife and human survival. Check out some of these photos depicting the harsh and cruel effects of a drought 's destruction in different parts of the world.
Drought's impact on Fish
Droughts can negatively affect the fish population in lake, rivers etc. Low water levels may expose prime reproductive habitat for certain fish species. During extreme droughts, low water levels may hinder in the multiplication of these species. And if the water level still remains low, juvenile fishes after the hatching period may survive initially but may become late prey to predators. In other cases, shallow water, dense vegetation, warm temperatures, and a small lake can lead to critically lower levels of dissolved oxygen thus killing the surviving fishes in the area.
Climate Change ?
Researchers from the University of Florida have found that decades of changes in water shortage have decreased forest biomass, causing an influx of trees that have more drought tolerance but may grow much more slowly. This could lead to changes in forest species composition along with their ecological effects. Moreover, it could affect the capacity of forest biomass to store carbon. Forests play a huge role in trapping atmospheric carbon. So if climate change affects forests, forests are equally affecting climate change.
Droughts, migration and violence
Researchers from the University of Utah found that when droughts became worse, the people from Kenya who made a living through agriculture and owned livestock had no option but to leave their homes. Experts and policymakers say that the steady rise in migration may eventually lead to an increase in violent conflict. People who migrate to other places are treated as outsiders/migrants and become victims of violent attacks. Eventually, they may resort to conflict just to defend themselves from the perpetrators.
Carbo Dioxide Increase
According to researchers from ETH Zurich, land ecosystems can absorb an average of 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, thereby neutralizing the increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Plants need water to grow and when a drought occurs it causes the soil to dry out, the photosynthesis process decreases in plants and so consume less CO2 just to save water and preserve their tissues. Subsequently, plants can no longer capture C02 from the surrounding thus leaving huge portions of carbon dioxide accumulated in the atmosphere.
Ocean temperatures can cause droughts !!
Drought produced dry air can exhaust plants more than soil
A study carried out by the researchers from the Indiana University has found that low relative humidity in the atmosphere may be the reason for the growing cause of plant stress in hot and dry weather conditions. As the humidity level falls, plants may become less effective at disposing carbon from the atmosphere, decreasing their ability to counter climate change. The same time agricultural management techniques like irrigation which help in improving soil moisture has a very small effect on humidity and may become ineffective in controlling humidity levels in the future.
The Worst Drought in History
One of the worst cases of recorded droughts in history took place in Northern China during the period of 1959-1961. the horrifying event killed an estimated number of almost 30 million people in China. The extreme drought was followed by a decline in crop growth and finally crop failure. This gradually led to the starvation of the people, diseases, and people later resorted to cannibalism. Shocking, the news of this tragic event was never known to the world until the year 1981.
Bees are also to become likely victims from climate change as the nature of droughts become more frequent. This could ultimately cause plants to produce fewer flowers. It was found that droughts could wipe of almost half the overall number of flowers. Eventually, there would no source of food for the bees or other pollinators who rely on flowers for the nectar and pollen supply. The research was carried out by the University of Exeter & the University of Manchester.
Rising farmer deaths
As high as 79.5% of India’s agricultural lands relies on flooding during monsoon seasons, and scarce rainfall and cause droughts thus leading to crop failure. Agricultural regions affected by droughts are known to have the highest of recorded farmer deaths.
During the year 2017, the drought-hit state of Maharashtra reported 852 farmer suicides in the first four months. Similarly, the year 2015 had some of the worst cases recorded of farmer deaths which comprised of upto 12,602 farmers who took their lives across different states of India. Approximately over 300,00 farmers have killed themselves in this country since the year 1995.
Recovery is never easy!!
For a period it was believed that forests and other vegetation in the ecosystem were assumed to come back to life quickly regardless of how severe or extreme the drought was in the area. But now the theory has been ruled out. According to researchers from the University of Utah, living trees could take up to an average of two to four years to recover and resume back to their normal growth rates after a drought had ended. Thus indicating the fact that forests are capable of storing very fewer amounts of carbon than previously thought to.
Drought can harshly affect Wildlife!
Impacts of drought can trigger the conflicts between wildlife and humans. Certain animals like bighorn sheep, deer and elk feed on the grass on roadsides which can make them prone to wildlife-vehicle collisions. Also with less grass in the surrounding areas, herders may struggle to find areas for their livestock or cattle to graze on and may even view elks as food competitors for their livestock. Ultimately they may resort to hunting down these elks gradually causing a steady decline in the wildlife population.