Date of this Version
Weather and Climate Extremes 34 (2021) 100383
The flash drought and its associated heat wave that affected western Russia in the summer of 2010 had significant cascading agricultural and socioeconomic impacts. Drought indicators sensitive to soil moisture and evapotranspiration (ET) showed that the flash drought began in June 2010, then intensified rapidly and expanded to cover much of western Russia. By early July, almost all of the major wheat producing regions of Russia were experiencing extreme water stress to the winter and spring wheat crops. The timing of the onset of the flash drought was particularly devastating as the period of most rapid intensification overlapped with the flowering stage for both the winter and spring wheat crops. As a result, wheat yields in Russia were reduced by over 70 percent in top wheat producing oblasts and total wheat production was reduced by 20 million metric tons (MT) compared to the previous seasons. In fulfillment of its recently adopted Food Security Doctrine, the Russian government banned the export of wheat in early August 2010 to preserve wheat for its own consumption. Further compounding matters on a global scale, the significant reduction in wheat production in Russia coincided with wheat production issues in places like western Australia, which led to a large drop in global wheat stocks. The sharp drop in global wheat stocks coincided with a rapid increase in wheat prices across the globe. The rapid increase in wheat prices, partly resulting from the rapid intensification of drought in Russia, led to increased prices for wheat flour and bread in many countries throughout the world. This ultimately led to an increase in poverty and civil unrest in countries like Mozambique and Egypt with a history of inequality and poverty.
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