Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Published in Water Resources Impact 16:1 (January 2014), pp. 21–23 (invited essay for the special issue AWRA at 50: The Future for Water Resources in the United States).


Copyright © 2014 American Water Resources Association.


Drought knows no political boundaries. It affects all United States (U.S.) states and most regions of the world on a frequent basis, impacting many diverse sectors. Millions of peo-ple died in recent years from starvation in the Greater Horn of Africa, and drought was a significant causal factor in that event. Millions more are threatened in other regions of Af-rica and in other developing countries each year. Much of Australia recently experienced severe drought conditions for a decade. In some areas of the country, it was the worst drought of the last century. Northeast Brazil continues to experience the devastating effects of a drought that began in 2012. Texas experienced its worst drought in state history in 2011, and two-thirds of the U.S. experienced moderate to exceptional drought in 2012, with impacts exceeding $35 billion. Drought has been pervasive throughout the western U.S. for the past decade and it appears to be becoming more frequent for this already water-stressed region. However, drought affects all portions of the U.S.; it is not just a feature of the climate of the western states. As of this writing, 46 percent of the nation is in moderate to exceptional drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.