How Did Humans Influence Drought?


You may think that drought is a phenomenon that appears independently of people’s actions. However, it’s also part of the bigger picture of the climate change. As we speak, several regions in the world are experiencing drought more often than they did 10-20-30 years ago. That’s why we need to zoom in on the evolution of drought and rainfall on Earth.

A Historical View

To gain more insight into the history of this weather phenomenon, scientists looked at tree rings. Believe it or not, these can show us valuable data about the location and duration of the droughts in the past. This is how scientists were able to recreate some historical maps (which they called “drought atlases”), covering almost an entire millennium! For example, with them, we can analyze the megadroughts that took place in the United States between 800 and 1300 CE.

Centralizing the Information

Kate Marvel, who works at NASA, has been working on a study on this topic. With an admirable effort, she managed to combine all the regional atlases that were previously created into a huge common one. For this, she also used recent information and some climate simulations, to see how did humans influence drought ever since the 1900s.

The Findings

Is it really a surprise that humans influenced the drought patterns starting with the 20th century? Well, not for anyone who has read at least something on climate change. Indeed, researchers discovered that along with the development of various industries, human pollution started affecting yet another part of nature.

This is an important thing to take into account if we needed yet another reason to take care of our planet. Scientists keep warning us to be more responsible in our care towards the environment. Otherwise, the patterns of the drought appearing all over the world will get even worse. And since we can’t live without water, the perspective is quite worrying.


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