Special issue: Drought's impacts on society, ecology and agriculture

April 16, 2020

In this Special Issue of Science, five Reviews highlight new insights into the impacts of drought on social, ecological and agricultural systems worldwide. Political fragmentation in how community water systems are managed in the United States contributes to disparities in water security in American communities and households, says Megan Mullin in one Review. Even though, by global standards, most Americans have reliable access to safe drinking water, access to clean water is still unequal within the country, particularly in the nation's rural and impoverished communities. This inequality is made worse by the ever-growing risk of drought, says Mullin; increasing drought can push most communities to the brink of their water supplies. Identifying and addressing weaknesses in water management policy is a crucial step towards ensuring water security for all Americans, Mullin says. Toby Ault highlights the various definitions and physical causes of drought and the analytical tools that enable us to evaluate and predict drought risks in another Review. In a third, Timothy Brodribb and colleagues discuss the vulnerability of Earth's forests as many regions become hotter and drier; according to Brodribb et al., many long-lived tree species may be particularly susceptible to damage via water stress. Aditi Gupta and colleagues discuss our current understanding of how plants alter their physiology to adapt to water insufficiency - research that is informing the development of high-yield, drought-resistant crops. In a final Review, Franciska De Vries and colleagues discuss the growing body of research highlighting the importance of soil microbiota in endowing plants with resilience to environmental stressors; understanding how crop plant microbiota responses buffer drought may enable sustainable food production on a drier planet.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Drought Articles from Brightsurf:

Redefining drought in the US corn belt
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The cost of drought in Italy
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Consequences of the 2018 summer drought
The drought that hit central and northern Europe in summer 2018 had serious effects on crops, forests and grasslands.

Songbirds reduce reproduction to help survive drought
New research from the University of Montana suggests tropical songbirds in both the Old and New Worlds reduce reproduction during severe droughts, and this - somewhat surprisingly -- may actually increase their survival rates.

Predicting drought in the American West just got more difficult
A new, USC-led study of more than 1,000 years of North American droughts and global conditions found that forecasting a lack of precipitation is rarely straightforward.

Where is the water during a drought?
In low precipitation periods - where and how is the limited available water distributed and what possibilities are there for improving retention in the soil and the landscape?

What does drought mean for endangered California salmon?
Droughts threatens California's endangered salmon population -- but pools that serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life and death for these vulnerable fish.

With shrinking snowpack, drought predictability melting away
New research from CU Boulder suggests that during the 21st century, our ability to predict drought using snow will literally melt away.

An evapotranspiration deficit drought index to detect drought impacts on ecosystems
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