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Abstract

This chapter provides an interdisciplinary review of the drought literature. Droughts are widely perceived as hydroclimatic hazards. In reality droughts are socioenvironmental phenomena, produced by admixtures of climatic, hydrological, environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural forces. The complexity and context specificity of drought confound severity and impact assessments. Interdisciplinary analyses of drought events and collective assessments with the participation of scientists, policy makers, stakeholders, and the public provide promising new ways of producing information for understanding and managing droughts. Global warming is likely to exacerbate droughts in many semiarid, snow-fed, and coastal basins. Research on historical and paleoclimates warns about the prospect of decadal or centennial megadroughts. Enhancing adaptive capacity becomes essential in the face of such uncertain future extremes. But policies remain locked in supply-side food and water technologies. Policies for the support of impoverished, vulnerable groups, investments in water conservation and appropriate, low-scale technologies can reduce drought vulnerability but face political-economic barriers.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.environ.33.081307.123117
2008-11-21
2024-04-21
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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