Anthropogenic Drought: Definition, Challenges, and Opportunities

We argue that within coupled human-water systems, drought must be defined and understood as a process as opposed to a product to help better frame and describe the complex and interrelated dynamics of both natural and human-induced changes that define anthropogenic drought as a compound multidimensional and multiscale phenomenon, governed by the combination of natural water variability, climate change, human decisions and activities, and altered micro-climate conditions due to changes in land and water management

Amir AghaKouchak; Ali Mirchi; Kaveh Madani; Giuliano Di Baldassarre; Ali Nazemi; Aneseh Alborzi; Hassan Anjileli; Marzi Azarderakhsh; Felicia Chiang; Elmira Hassanzadeh; Laurie S. Huning; Iman Mallakpour; Alexandre Martinez; Omid Mazdiyasni; Hamed Moftakhari; Hamid Norouzi; Mojtaba Sadegh; Dalal Sadeqi; Anne F. Van Loon; Niko Wanders

2021

Scholarcy highlights

  • Traditional, mainstream definitions of drought describe it as deficit in water-related variables or water-dependent activities due to natural variabilities that are out of the control of local decision-makers
  • We argue that within coupled human-water systems, drought must be defined and understood as a process as opposed to a product to help better frame and describe the complex and interrelated dynamics of both natural and human-induced changes that define anthropogenic drought as a compound multidimensional and multiscale phenomenon, governed by the combination of natural water variability, climate change, human decisions and activities, and altered micro-climate conditions due to changes in land and water management. This definition considers the full spectrum of dynamic feedbacks and processes within human-nature systems that drive the development of anthropogenic drought. This process magnifies the water supply demand gap and can lead to water bankruptcy, which will become more rampant around the globe in the coming decades due to continuously growing water demands under compounding effects of climate change and global environmental degradation
  • This article reviews research and progress on the notion of anthropogenic drought broadly defined as drought events caused or intensified by human activities
  • Most commonly used drought definitions are based on deficit in hydrologic/meteorologic drivers such as precipitation and runoff
  • Anthropogenic drought and the corresponding human interactions should be incorporated in models that include land-atmosphere interactions, water balance, and energy balance
  • We review existing research gaps and opportunities for better understanding, modeling, and management of this phenomenon

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