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Drought Risk and Hazard

  • By: Margaret Wilder & Gregg M. Garfin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Drought is a complex concept with both physical and socially constructed components. The idea of a drought conjures a popular image of cracked brown earth, fallow agricultural fields, and suffering human communities. This realistic image confuses the physical drought hazard with the social impacts of drought in contexts with high drought risk. Drought does not lend itself to a single, universal definition because drought has different spatial and temporal characteristics in distinct climates and regions. Drought hazard refers to the physical phenomenon of a meteorological drought, generally defined as a departure from a long-term precipitation (e.g, rainfall or snowfall) average that results in an impact in a specific place. A drought is a temporary yet recurring phenomenon that occurs in all climates, but occurs with ...

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