Russia suffered its worst drought in decades in 2010. The lack of water dried up a piece of land the size of Portugal and the year’s wheat harvests were instantly reduced. We know today that there was a sudden drought that led to a rapid and severe drying of the surface of the earth at a sensitive moment: the growth of crops and spring, which, as a result of that event, reduced their fruits by 70. %.
Now, new findings published today in the scientific journal Earth & Environment Communications have revealed the dangers of future droughts under different scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions – those that trap heat from the sun. And above all, they studied the effects of crops on the fields.
These projections recognize some “critical points”, such as the case of the Iberian Peninsula, the eastern Amazon or Indochina, where sudden droughts – also known as flash-, will have a much more serious risk of growth than in other areas. But in terms of regions, it is Europe and North America where the greatest growth is expected.
In the case of extreme conditions of gas emissions, that is, in which they continue to increase and be controlled, the study found an increase from 32% in 2015 to 49% in North America and 53% in Europe for 2100. can impose on the food system.
As the study explains, flash droughts occur when a lack of rain occurs when high evaporation rates occur, resulting in rapid drying of the earth’s surface. The speed with which flash droughts develop compared to conventional droughts means that there is often not enough warning to implement mitigation strategies, which can put crops at risk.
Recently, another study published in the journal Science used data available since 1951 to explore the development of these flash droughts. The conclusions showed that it is developing more and more in humid regions and in general the frequency is increasing in 74% of the surface of the planet, without counting the poles.
What Christian Jordan and his colleagues have now assessed is how the occurrence of these flash droughts could change and evaluate under different global models of the type of global drought.
To achieve this, the authors developed historical simulations of flash droughts (between 1850 and 2014), and projected future flash drought events from 2015 to 2100 in three different Socioeconomic Scenarios (SSP).
These tracks, called SSP126, SSP245 and SSP585, explore how the world can change under different world policies and range from a sustainable mission to a high-emissions mission. However, under all three scenarios, flash droughts are projected to increase by 6-9.5% by the end of the century.
The authors also found that the risk of flash drought is projected to increase for global crops between 2015 and 2100 compared to the historical period. In the higher emissions scenario, the annual risk of drought on crop yields in Europe increases from 32% in 2015 to 53% in 2100, while in North America it increases from 32% to 49%. Africa, Asia, and South America are also experiencing substantial increases in the risk of flash drought. The main emissions scenario projects worse outcomes than the two smaller extreme scenarios.
The authors suggest that world population growth in demand for food and changes in flash droughts are putting pressure on food security.