The Topic:
Drought

Easier - A drought is a long period of very dry weather. It is a long time with little or no rain.
 
Harder - A drought, pronounced drowt, is a period of abnormally dry weather when the average rainfall for a region drops far below the normal amount for a long time. Higher than normal temperatures usually occur during drought periods. The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration and the size of the affected area.
 
Drought impacts can be economic, social, and environmental. Lack of rain and increased temperatures cause stress on both rural agricultural and urban metropolitan areas. Unusual periods of rain-free weeks can spread panic and shrivel crops. Wells, lakes, and streams begin to dry up. People are directed to stop washing cars, cease watering lawns, and employ other water saving measures. Plants and farm crops eventually wither and then die. Animals suffer and may even die because of extreme drought. Forest and grass fires occur more frequently and can spread quickly if dry, arid conditions continue. Absence of moisture and plant life reduction can lead to increased wind erosion. More weeks and months without sufficient rainfall coupled with wind and sunshine can begin to turn a forest into desert.
 
Drought from Discovery Communications Inc.
http://www.discovery.com/news/features/drought/drought.html
This site covers some of the U.S.'s historic dry spells and helps you discover nature's most patient killer. See photos and a video clip too.
Related Website:
2) U.S. Drought Continues from Riverdeep Interactive Learning Limited http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2000/05/front.170500.drought.jhtml
3) North American Drought: A Paleo Perspective from NOAA Paleoclimatology Program http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_home.html 
 
Drought Information for Kids
http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/drought/kids_droughtinfo.htm
Learn all about droughts here.
Related Websites:
2) All About Droughts from National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/drought.htm
3) Drought and Climate Change from National Drought Mitigation Center http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc/enigma/cchange.htm
4) Drought Definitions from Drought Information Center of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/subject/hotopics/drought/drtterm.htm
5) Drought FAQ and Suggested Web Sites http://www.ucar.edu/news/032202.html
6) Drought Guide from Stormfax http://www.stormfax.com/drought.htm
7) Drought Impacts from Ctr. for Earth and Environmental Studies, Texas A&M International University http://www.tamiu.edu/cost/drought/impacts/index.htm
8) Drought Indices by M.J. Hayes, National Drought Mitigation Center
http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc/enigma/indices.htm
9) Impacts of Droughts from National Drought Mitigation Center http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc/impacts/impacts.htm
10)Understanding and Defining Drought from National Drought Mitigation Center
http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc/enigma/def2.htm
 
Drought Information Center from National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
http://www.drought.noaa.gov/
This comprehensive site connects to the various NOAA Web sites and information on drought and climate conditions. Some external links are included.
Other Comprehensive Websites:
2) Drought Outlook http://droughtoutlook.com/
3) Resources: Floods and Droughts from USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/weather/whydro00.htm
 
Drought Monitor
http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/index.html
Tracking drought blends science and art. No single definition of drought works for all circumstances, so people rely on drought indices to detect and measure droughts. But no single index works under all circumstances, either. That's why we need the Drought Monitor.
Related Websites from National Climatic Data Center:
2) Animated Indicator Maps for Drought Monitor from National Climatic Data Center
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/dm/weekly-DM-animations.html
3) Drought Termination and Amelioration
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/drought/drought.html
Other Related Sites:
4) Current and Anticipated Precipitation Anomalies over the U.S. http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/Drought/
5) Palmer Drought Severity Index
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/regional_monitoring/palmer.gif
6) United States Seasonal Drought Outlook
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html
 
After visiting several of the websites for drought, complete one or more of these related activities.
 
Complete A Drought WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at this webQuest site:
Drought: How Dry I Am! (Grade 5) by D. Landers-Cauley, E. Mantenfel, & E. Berry
http://www.sandwich.k12.ma.us/webquest/drought/index.htm
 
Investigate Two Separate Droughts. Use the websites to research two different droughts in separate locations. Compare and contrast the droughts. How were they alike and how were they different.
 
Collect Oral Histories on Droughts. Interview adults about any long-dry spells they remember during their earlier lives. Did they grow up in the Great Plains region during the 'Dust Bowl' years or did they experience drought during the Fifties? What were the driest years that they remember? What changes did drought make in their lives? How long and how severe was the drought? Before you conduct your interviews, you may want to visit Oral History, another eduScapes 42eXplore project.
 
Research the Drought History of Where You Live. Use the websites to learn the history of droughts in the region where you live.
 
What Should Be Done In Early Drought Stages? If you are in a region beginning to experience drought, what measures should be taken? Put together lists of recommendations for local government, for your family, for a work location. Make the choices and then put together a case to convince others.
 
Create A Drought Awareness Poster. Decide what the most important issues or factors are that the public needs to have brought to their attention or reinforced. Then create an eye-catching poster display that effectively conveys your message.
 
Websites By Kids For Kids
Drought from Natural Disasters (1997 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
http://library.thinkquest.org/10136/drought/droutq.htm
Learn about what causes drought, where they occur, some specifics about major droughts, and much more.
Similar Projects:
2) Drought from Natural Disasters: Destructive Forces of Nature (1998 ThinkQuest
Internet Challenge) http://library.thinkquest.org/16132/html/drought.html
3) What's A Drought? from Forces of Nature (2000 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge -
Silver Award) http://library.thinkquest.org/C003603/english/droughts/whatsadrought.shtml
 
Droughts (Grade 7) from Germantown Elementary School
http://www.germantown.k12.il.us/html/droughts1.html
This webpage is part of a larger Website on natural disasters and provides basic information about droughts.
 
Historical Droughts
Droughts Played Major Role In Jamestown, 'Lost Colony' Tragedies from College of William and Mary
http://www.wm.edu/wmnews/042398/drought.html
Tree-ring evidence suggests worst droughts in 800 years led to settlements' decline.
Related Websites:
2) Climatology: Lessons from the Past and the Reality of Global Warming from PBS's Scientific American Frontiers http://www.pbs.org/saf/1203/features/climatology.htm
3) Epic 16th Century Drought Could Revisit North America by S. Kriner from Disaster
Relief http://www.disasterrelief.org/Disasters/000210megadrought/
4) Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts at Drought: A Paleo Perspective
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_james.html
5) Roanoke Island from Watershed Radio http://www.watershedradio.org/may2001/050301roano.htm
6) Trees Reveal Early Colonists Arrived During Worst Drought in 800 Years from (Chesapeake) Bay Journal http://www.bayjournal.com/current/trees.htm
 
Paleoclimate Drought Resources from NOAA Paleoclimatology Program, National Geophysical Data Center
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought.html
Because instrumented records are limited to primarily the past 100-150 years, paleoclimate records are crucial to gaining a long-term perspective on drought variability, particularly when it comes to multi-decadal droughts that have occurred prior to the instrumented records.
 
Surviving the Dust Bowl from PBS's The American Experience
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dustbowl/index.html
Here you can get background information about the drought during the Great Depression.
Related Webpages:
2) Drought and Erosion from New Deal Network http://newdeal.feri.org/library/7_31_4r.htm
3) "Even the Grasshoppers were Starving" During the 1934 Drought by W.P. Reeve from Utah History To Go http://www.utahhistorytogo.org/drought.html
4) History of the Dustbowl http://www.ultranet.com/~gregjonz/dust/dustbowl.html
5) Impacts & Mitigation of Drought in the Dust Bowl Years from National Drought Mitigation Center http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc/impacts/dustbowl/1930s1.htm
 
Tree Ring Records Link Historic Epidemics to Drought in Mexico . . . from University of Arkansas
http://pigtrail.uark.edu/news/2002/FEB02/Stahle02.html
Tree ring reconstruction of rainfall dating back to the 1500s may provide insight into some of the epidemics that decimated the native population of Mexico shortly after the arrival of Europeans.
Related Website:
2) Drought Reigns in N.M. History by J. Fleck, Albuquerque Journal http://www.abqjournal.com/2000/1mill5-27.htm
 
Social Strife May Have Exiled Ancient Indians by G. Johnson
http://www.santafe.edu/~johnson/articles.anasazi.html
Until very recently, the most perplexing mystery of Southwestern archeology -- what caused the collapse of the ancient empire of the Anasazi -- seemed all but solved.
Related Website:
2) Collapse - Chaco Canyon from Annenberg/CPB http://www.learner.org/exhibits/collapse/chacocanyon.html
3) Mystery of the Anasazi from USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/weather/science/archaeology/anasazi102900.htm
4) Paleoenvironmental Change http://www.cpluhna.nau.edu/People/paleoenvironmental_change.htm
 
US Drought History
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climvis/usdroughthistory.html
Using this online ClIMVIS database that incorporates the Palmer Drought Severity Index and more, you can plot the drought history of any state in the U.S. for any time since 1895.
 
Why Droughts Plague Texas from Texas Water Resources Institute
http://twri.tamu.edu/twripubs/WtrResrc/v22n2/index.html
This website explains why dry spells have always been part of Texas and will likely continue.
Related Website:
2) Drought of the 1950s http://twri.tamu.edu/twripubs/WtrResrc/v22n2/text-3.html
3) Going to Dust: The Midwestern Drought of 1996 http://www.time.com/time/special/drought/
 
More Websites on Drought
Dealing with Drought from International Water Management Institute
http://www.cgiar.org/iwmi/home/drought.htm
When water becomes scarce, farmers have two options: find new sources of irrigation water or find ways of minimizing irrigation demand.
 
Desertification, Drought and Their Consequences by A.P. Koohafkan from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
http://www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/sustdev/EPdirect/EPan0005.htm
This article provides a brief analysis and provides links to climate maps and articles primarily on drought and agriculture.
 
Drought: Fact Sheet on Water Conservation from American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/keepsafe/drought.html
Here are tips for conserving water for environmental reasons, as well as when drought conditions threaten.
Related Website:
2) Drought Information and Water Saving Tips from The Franklin Institute
http://sln.fi.edu/weather/drought.html
 
Drought Information Center of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/subject/hotopics/drought/default.htm
This comprehensive information site centers on the drought in Pennsylvania and includes reports, maps, factsheets, tips for conserving water, and much more.
Other State Centers:
2) Colorado Drought Monitoring http://www.dola.state.co.us/oem/PublicInformation/Drought/drought.htm
3) Drought in Georgia http://interests.caes.uga.edu/drought/
4) Drought Information (Texas)
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/drought/drought.html
5) Florida Drought Watch http://www.dca.state.fl.us/bpr/EMTOOLS/florida_drought_center.htm
6) Montana Drought Monitoring http://nris.state.mt.us/Drought/
7) New Jersey Drought Information http://www.njdrought.org/
8) Oklahoma Drought Information Page http://www.state.ok.us/~governor/drought.htm
9) South Carolina Drought Information Center http://water.dnr.state.sc.us/climate/sco/drought.html
10)State of Connecticut Drought Response http://www.drought.state.ct.us/
11)Texas Drought http://agnews.tamu.edu/drought/
12)Wyoming Drought Monitor http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/wrds/wsc/dtf/drought.html
 
Drought Disasters from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
http://www.unicef.org/drought/
This website provides information on drought striken areas around the globe.
Related Websites:
2) Development: Drought Spreads through Poorest Nations by G. Capdevila from IPS-Inter Press Service http://www.oneworld.org/ips2/aug00/17_53_028.html
3) Drought Monitoring Centre for the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA)
http://lion.meteo.go.ke/dmc/
4) Drought Situation in Pakistan http://www.drought.sdnpk.org/
5) Living With Drought from Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth of Australia
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/livedrought.shtml
6) Response to Drought in Southern Africa from U.S. Agency for International Development
http://www.usaid.gov/press/releases/2002/fs020510.html
7) Water Page - Drought http://www.thewaterpage.com/drought1.htm
 
Dryland Web
http://www.undp.org/seed/unso/
The Office to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNSO), created in 1973 in response to the drought in the Sahel region, is part of the United Nations Development Programme and responsible for promoting sound dryland management and development as well as drought preparedness and mitigation.
 
Sustainable Agriculture in Western Canada: Planning for Droughts Using the Past
http://www.uregina.ca/biology/faculty/leavitt/drought/drought1.htm
This project will use new and standard paleoecological techniques to obtain highly resolved fossil records of drought from lakes located in the main agricultural regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
 
Water Watch from U.S. Geological Survey
http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch/
This site provides maps of the U.S. of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year.
 
Websites For Teachers
Drought, Nomads and the Price of Peanuts
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/coolplanet/ontheline/schools/swallows/drought.htm
These lesson activities are fairly straightforward in scope, comparing traditional systems with cash cropping groundnuts (peanuts). It offers one example of the difficulties brought about by a modern agricultural model in circumstances which are ecologically fragile.
 
Drought Affects Much of U.S. from Riverdeep
http://www.riverdeep.net/current/1999/08/080299.drought.jhtml
Here are some classroom suggestions for investigating drought.
 
Earth Alert - Drought from Discovery Communications, Inc.
http://school.discovery.com/schoolfeatures/featurestories/earthalert/drought/
Here you find three learning activities for drought.
 
Examine the Ecological, Economic and Political Impact of Drought from Cable News Network
http://fyi.cnn.com/2002/fyi/lesson.plans/06/13/wildfire/
Have students determine if their community is being affected by drought and if so, find out if local water usage restrictions are in place. Have students identify a region that is at risk for drought and determine the long-term ecological, economic and political impact of prolonged drought for that region.
 
Heat Wave and Drought: Introduction to Environmental Decision Making
http://www.worldwatcher.northwestern.edu/userdownloads/pdf/lessonsamples.pdf
In this lesson activity, students are introduced to the curriculum through a scenario. They are assigned to groups, each group representing a community. Within each community, they are asked to make decisions about what to do when faced with shortages of water and electricity.
 
Living Through A Drought (Grades 3-5) from National Geographic Society
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/01/g35/drought.html
In this lesson, students will practice map-reading skills. Using a drought map of Afghanistan from “Afghanistan, Land in Crisis” site, students will learn how to recognize drought, where drought can occur, and how drought affects the people who live in those places.
 
Time and Cycles: "Logs of Straw: Dendrochronology" from U.S. Geological Survey
http://interactive2.usgs.gov/learningweb/teachers/globalchange_time.htm
In this activity straws will be used to simulate tree-ring core samples. Using the straws, students will work in groups to reconstruct a 50 year climatic history. Students will record this chronology on a 3 meter time line designed to highlight significant social, personal, and scientific events covering the same period.
 
drought
water rationing
weather
rainfall
El Nino
arid
conserving water
water
irrigation
Great Depression
desertification
global warming
crop failure
refugee
socioeconomic
meteorological
agricultural
hydrological
soil erosion
moisture
desert
fire
predict
wind
flood
disaster, catastrophe & calamity
'dustbowl'
La Niña
soil
precipitation
heat
duration
environment history
'Drought Buster'
Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI)
dry spell
 
  
 
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/02.