Chapter 1 – Drought

Drought in Atlanta and surrounding area, Georgia

Marisha Cautilli, Penn State University

Atlanta is the state capital of Georgia and this metropolitan area is home to over 6 million people. The state is known for its famous Georgia peaches, and the surrounding rural areas of Atlanta are home to many peach farms. Sadly, in a decade or two, peaches may no longer be able to grow due to threats climate change poses to Atlanta. The worst of these threats is drought. If we look at, as they say, past as prologue, we can use the 2007 drought as a sign for future events to come. In 2007 and 2008, during a climate-change linked drought, Atlanta suffered a decrease of about 38% of precipitation throughout the year, only receiving 31.85 inches of rainfall over the full year. While the coast of Georgia is expected to get wetter and eventually sink, the area around Atlanta specifically is forecasted to get hotter and drier, meaning drought is more likely to occur and that these droughts will be more intense. What effects do these conditions yield?

According to the Climate Reality Project, these effects are linked to climate change because the area is getting hotter, water is evaporating from the soil, and less water will be available for crops to be watered. These conditions will lead to drier soil and harsher conditions for plants to grow in, and thus less crop yield. In addition to this, health hazards will be more prevalent with drought, including air particles that are suspended in the air that irritates the bronchial tubes and lungs. Finally, these droughts will affect drinking water quality in Atlanta and the surrounding metropolitan area. There will be less water to drink and people would be more likely to get sick from it. According to the CDC, viruses and bacteria can contaminate surface and groundwater and lead to increased risk of illness. In addition, people will be more susceptible to illness because water would be minimally used in hygiene routines. Water conservation groups, such as Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, have appeared in response to the looming threat of drought. They have started many efforts since their founding and have been able to decrease water usage by about 10%. However, even with this conservation, increasing demand will create more strain on water resources, and water conservation on its own will not be able to stop the major effects of drought. Farming should move to drip irrigation and Atlanta should consider buying desalinated water from the Georgian coast. Finally, Atlanta draws its water sources from the Chattahoochee river and lakes Lanier and Allatoona. These water sources have been directly affected by drought in recent years and thus policy should be written to regulate economic uses thus limiting the amount of strain put on water resources.


Drought and Your Health. (2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT GEORGIA? (2018, September 28). The Climate Reality Project.

Norford, D. (n.d.). The Effects of the 2007 Drought on Georgia’s Water Supply. The Weather Prediction.

Conserve Our Water. (n.d.). Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

Water Supply in Our Region. (n.d.). Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

Masters, J. (2008, January 1). Top U.S. weather story of 2007: the Southeast U.S. drought. Weather Underground.,the%20average%20of%2048%20inches.

Desertification in Northern Ningxia Hui, China

Marisha Cautilli, Penn State University

Ningxia Hui is a region located in Northwestern China. It is surrounded by three deserts, which all fall near or under the larger Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert, however, is expanding from several problems, but a major one is climate change. Different sources have different statistics, but both Forbes and the ESRI put the rate of desert expansion specifically for the Gobi desert at 2,250 miles annually, while the New York Times puts it at over 1,300 square miles annually. Both sources attribute this continuing expansion to climate change, citing that the already arid climate of that region is becoming even drier due to increasing temperatures. The worry is that as sand from the desert expands, the soil in green areas will erode to the point of becoming sand and the land will not support human life. The desertification of the land spells many negative effects, including the loss of good farmland, destruction of machinery from Gobi dust storms, and a mass migration eastward. The Gobi dust storms have also been identified as a source of pollution and disease (Ratliff, 2003). Reversing desertification is of increasing importance in this area and globally, which is why it is part of the United Nations’ goal to stop all growth by 2030 (CGTN America, 2017).

One of the solutions the region has taken to, and its most popular solution, is the “Great Green Wall,” a project in which trees are planted in the desert to create a natural boundary against the harsh conditions of the desert. The goal is to plant 5 million hectares of trees (Ratliff, 2003). Over 66 billion trees have been planted as of April 2017, but professor Feng Wang at the Institute of Desertification Studies at the Chinese Academy of Forestry points out that because the trees were not taken care of after being planted, they will eventually die off as desertification continues to occur (Petri, 2017).

Another solution that the region has attempted using is a paste-like substance made from the same materials that plants use to hold shape. China has discovered this paste holds water and makes replanting easier (CGTN America, 2017). The paste is made using a sodium carboxymethyl cellulose solution mixed with sand and it is successfully able to trap water, nutrients, and air (Spaen, ND).

Third, China is developing new agricultural techniques and using better existing techniques like drop-to-drop irrigation and evaporation prevention technology, which they are developing (Gallo, 2019). These techniques have been successful in growing watermelons and many other fruits and vegetables.

These techniques will be the ones to prevent Northern Ningxia Hui from losing its land to desert.


[CGTN America]. (2017, September 13). New technology in China turns desert into land rich with crops. [Video]. Youtube. (source is biased because it is paid for by the Chinese Government to highlight the solutions it is implementing)

The Expansion of the Gobi Desert. (n.d.).

Gallo, A. (2019, July 10). China, the Green Wall which will stop the desert advancing. Ecobnb.

Haner, J., Wong, E., Watkins, D., & White, J. (n.d.). Living in China’s Expanding Deserts. New York Times.

Petri, A. E. (2017, April 21). China’s ‘Great Green Wall’ Fights Expanding Desert. National Geographic.

Ratliff, E. (2003, April 1). The Green Wall of China. Wired Magazine. 11(4).

Rechtshaffen, D. (2017, September 18). How China’s Growing Deserts Are Choking The Country. Forbes.

Spaen, B. (2019, May 24). China Researchers Find Way To Transform Deserts Into Fertile Land. Green Matters.

Climate Change in Sacramento, California

Neilan Harris, Software Engineering, Penn State University

Sacramento, California is an area that is susceptible to climate change. In the near future, droughts and heatwaves will become more frequent and severe. This will lead to larger and more frequent forest fires, water shortages, and health problems in urban areas. The Sacramento Valley is especially susceptible to these changes due to a number of factors, including prior land management techniques, large suburban development, and rerouting of water from the Sacramento river for agricultural purposes (Houlton & Lund, 2018; Meckler-Pacheco, n.d.).

The decrease in wetlands has put the valley’s fisheries in danger. It is estimated that by 2100 more than 82 percent of the native species will be in danger of extinction (Houlton & Lund, 2018). Reduced rainfall expected in California will result in dryer conditions and provide more fuel for wildfires. In fact, in 2020, California had 6 of the largest 20 fires in known history. The largest of all time occurred in September, just northwest of Sacramento in the Mendocino National Forest (Romero, 2020). The wildfires have also created problems in terms of air quality. Increased ozone levels typically remain in the valley due to the geography of the area. Higher temperatures will create stronger and more frequent “heat waves.” By 2100, average daily temperatures will increase by 10 °F, and the number of extreme heat days will increase from 4 to 40 (Houlton & Lund, 2018). These extreme heat events place a strain on public health (Meckler-Pacheco, n.d.).

Sacramento is an example of a city that has a good plan to combat climate change. They have developed a climate action plan. As of 2016, they have reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by 18% from levels observed in 2005. Further reductions are planned at both the state and local level (Rincon Consultants, Inc., 2020; Houlton & Lund, 2018). Forest management activities are increasing, with prescribed burns and strategic thinning, to develop more mature forests capable of withstanding impacts from climate change and fewer large fires. These forests will also have the advantage of greater carbon sequestration (Houlton & Lund, 2018). To combat the heat island effect of urban areas, Sacramento has implemented programs to increase green space in the city, and to plant more trees to help shade the city. They even have a program to give 10 free trees to any customer in the city limits (Meckler-Pacheco, n.d.). These actions will help with the weather changes to come, and the population is looking for ways to improve even more.


Rincon Consultants, Inc. (2020, March). Appendix A – Community Inventory and Forecast Methodology. City Of Sacramento.—Community-Technical-Appendix-Final-3_16_20.pdf?la=en

Houlton, B. J., & Lund, J. (2018). Sacramento Summary Report. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.

Meckler-Pacheco, A. (n.d.). How climate change will impact Sacramento. The California Aggie.

Romero, D. (2020, September 10). Wildfire north of Sacramento is largest in California history — and it may not be done growing. NBC News.

Drought in Azraq, Jordan

Stephanie Reyes, Chemistry, Eberly College of Science

Azraq is a small town in Jordan. It is running dry. This town lies in the middle of the Azraq oasis, the only source of freshwater in the area. The town and country get their water from aquifers which are being over pumped. The government had a plan to have wells shared and governed by cities. In Azraq, there were more than 1000 illegal wells where water was over pumped (Aline Gsell, 2018). In the end, Azraq has started to run dry. Due to climate change, rainfall has also decreased. The country receives less than 50 millimeters of rainfall each year. Another problem Azraq faces is increased population due to refugees and the ongoing war in Syria. A water allowance of 35 liters/day is assumed for each refugee. To ensure the drinking water supply in the Azraq camp, two deep wells have been drilled. Water is being removed at 2.5 times the amount flowing into the groundwater (Whitman, 2019). Sharing the water is not popular, and problems have risen between the citizens and refugees. Despite these efforts, the groundwater table is sinking and there is worry that the water will run out. Problems arise since water is distributed through old pipes. These pipes leak causing water loss. Some leaks are so big, they flood streets. There are some solutions the country has tried to implement. One is education. Schools/universities teach the effects of water shortages and try to educate on water conservation. Still, often one sees car owners washing their car daily or gardens watered during midday. Most houses are not connected to city water pipes, which means water is not recovered, treated, and sent back to the pipes. This water then infiltrates the groundwater. Another solution discussed is modern seed cultures which use less water (Aline Gsell, 2018). Pipes and farming are big concerns, but there is no definitive answer from the government. One of the most expensive solutions has been discussed for years between Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. This is the Red Sea-Dead Sea project, whose goal is to prevent both seas from drying, by desalination of water which would be transported by a canal that would end at the Dead Sea (Bedein, 2020). Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer as there are political and economic problems between these countries. But as these governments fight, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, and Azraq, Jordan keep drying up.


Aline Gsell. (2018). Azraq: an oasis runs dry. Azraq Runs Dry.

Whitman, E. (2019, September 4). A land without water: the scramble to stop Jordan from running dry. Nature.

Bedein, N. (2020, April 22). Help save the Dead Sea before it’s too late. The Jerusalem Post.

Water in Chihuahua, Colton Sands

PSU World Campus, Penns Valley Area High School

Now we will focus on the State of Chihuahua in Mexico, more specifically the La Boquilla Dam. In September of 2020, this dam was taken over by a group of farmers protesting against the Mexican government sending stored water across the border to the US. The government was acting in accord with a 1944 treaty that has the US and Mexico sharing the flow of the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers. Local farmers, suffering from severe drought, occupied the dam to stop the deliveries. Two people have been killed in conflicts between the farmers and the National Guard. Why is this happening? As we know, climate change is causing a decrease in the water supply in arid regions like the southern United States and northern Mexico. With a latitude right under 30 degrees N, the region falls directly into the zone the IPCC predicts to see a decrease in water supply and an increase in competition for said water supply. While the average annual precipitation during the 2000s was 39 centimeters, this decade has seen it fall to 33 centimeters, a 15 percent decrease. Due to decreased rainfall, farmers have relied increasingly on underground aquifers, which are beginning to run low due to overdrilling. This lack of water has seen farmers suffering huge losses. In 2012, a year of severe drought in the region, it is estimated that 350,000 cattle died, costing farmers the equivalent of over 100 million dollars. This year’s drought is likely having a similar impact. The United States, also suffering from water shortage, has demanded Mexico pay its debts, which some feel unfairly burdens the farmers of Chihuahua. Currently, Chihuahua is footing 54 percent of Mexico’s water bill to the United States, which many farmers feel is unfair, due to the fact that water received from the US is not given to Chihuahua in the same proportions. The Mexican government has acknowledged the danger of climate change, and in 2012 became the second country to set a legally binding carbon emissions target. Lowering global carbon emissions, developing more efficient means of agriculture, and rethinking how to distribute water resources are all necessary to help ease the effects of climate change on Chihuahua’s farmers. Unless something is done, the violence at La Boquilla Dam is likely a sign of things to come as more and more people become deprived of our most basic resource.


Hibbard, K.A., Hoffman, F. M., Huntzinger, D., & West, T. O. (2017). Changes in land cover and terrestrial biogeochemistry. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 277-302, doi: 10.7930/J0416V6X.

Jiménez Cisneros, B.E., Oki, T., Arnell, N.W., Benito, G., Cogley, J. G., Döll, P., Jiang, T., & Mwakalila, S. S. (2014). Freshwater resources. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 229-269.

Kitroeff, N. (2020, October 14) This is War: Cross-Border Fight Over Water Erupts in Mexico. New York Times.

Tegel, S. (2012, July 12). Chihuahua: Where the Rain Doesn’t Fall Anymore. Pulitzer Center.’s,32%20states%20have%20been%20affected.

Wilson, E. (2020, October 8). Mexico’s Water Crisis Heats Up as Transfer to US Looms. Al Jazeera.

Desertification in Burkina Faso

Skip Star, Security and Risk Analysis, Penn State University 

The place I want to write about for the fourth capstone assignment is Burkina Faso. I knew nothing about Burkina Faso until about 8 years ago; my business partner decided to take a break from our American reality and head to Burkina Faso for two months to build a school, a well, and a town center building for a small village in the northeast named Nelba. Nelba is in a region of Africa called the Sahel. The Sahel is a biogeographical region that separates the Sahara Desert to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. The Sahel belt runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf and is over 600 miles wide, 3,360 miles long, and gets less than 600mm of rain each year (UNDP, n.d.). The Sahel runs right through the top of Burkina Faso and is getting pushed south as the Sahara grows southward due to global warming. This desertification will directly affect Nebal and the Tuareg people that live there, reducing what little freshwater they already have to unsustainable levels (Sahel, 2020). Another downside of the desertification is that the number of dust storms will increase as the Saraha creeps to the south. These dust storms are responsible for soil loss and prevent the locals from maintaining what little food security they have. The only way the Tuareg would be able to slow down the desertification and the reduction of freshwater and topsoil is through carbon reduction and reforestation. Currently, there are two Green New Deals in the works, one in the US and another in Europe. If these two deals can go through, the world will have a model roadmap to follow to reduce carbon emissions substantially and keep the planet under the 2 degrees C threshold. Lastly, there are reforestation groups such as Ecosia which specialize in planting trees where they are needed most. Ecosia and its partners are responsible for planting over 15 million trees covering over 14 thousand hectares since 2014. This movement creates employment and nutrition through agroforestry and helps the communities take charge of their futures (Ecosia Blog, n.d.).


Burkina Faso. (n.d.). UNDP.

Burkina Faso: Re-greening the Desert. (n.d.). Ecosia Blog.

Sahel. (2020, October 28). In Wikipedia.

Droughts in Stratford, California

Lucas A. Barnak

The town of Stratford, California has been forced to make difficult decisions that come as consequences of the extreme droughts that they face, and I will dive deep into the threats of these droughts, why Stratford is so vulnerable, the forecasted impacts of said threats, and their solutions.

In this small town of Stratford, the threats of these droughts cover a wide variety of things. For example, local farmers have been forced to sell land that they’ve owned for generations to keep their business afloat, as it is impossible for them to farm and harvest crops without water. This leaves local store owners with a lack of products to provide for the community, leaving their businesses hanging on by a thread, and the citizens looking for fresh produce. Furthermore, there are a multitude of canals that used to be full of life and offered a place for locals to cool off in the heat, but now they have been reduced to strips of dirt and dust.

As for the forecasted impacts of the community, it is apparent that if the droughts continue to be this aggressive and continue to put these local farmers out of work, it will create a chain effect. First, the farmers will have to shut down, thus causing the stores that buy from them to shut down, resulting in the locals being deprived of not only this fresh produce and supplies, but also the water that everyone is so desperately looking for. Furthermore, with all these businesses shutting down, it leaves many locals out of work, so the town will continue to struggle financially as a whole.

The solutions to these threats consist of individuals from outside this very niche community stepping in and aiding them in these difficult times. Produce can be delivered to the town in refrigerated vans to keep the local stores open and, in turn, fueling their economy by allowing people to keep their jobs in these stores. Another way to help slow or ease the problem is to regulate the small town’s use of water in unnecessary practices. The town can limit the amount of water that, for example, gyms, dry cleaners, etc. can use on a regular basis to cut back on waste. Also, an extreme tactic, water restriction, can be used for any non-essential activities, and all local businesses would have to abide by this, otherwise they would be fined.


Raynor, M. (2016, June 15). After the Drought. Slate.

Terselic, R. A. (2003, June 1). Small Town Develops Strategy to Counter Drought. Water World.

Drought in the Hoopa Valley

Molly Biver

Almost every American has heard about the water shortage in California. But not everyone has heard of how it impacts the lives of the Hoopa Valley people. They are a Native American Tribe in Northern California, and their community’s livelihood is based on salmon fishing off the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Salmon are easily impacted by droughts. These fish experience lower reproduction rates in environments of warmer water temperatures and lower water levels. Warmer water temperatures have also led to disease outbreaks in salmon species. Less fish in the water is also caused by the Klamath River Dam, among others, blocking the fish from swimming upstream from the ocean and into their typical breeding grounds. Overall, Salmon fishing in Northern California is becoming more and more difficult and less and less financially productive. For a tribe dependent on fishing for integral cultural and economic reasons, this is a very important issue. Although the famous five-year drought officially ended in 2017, it’s effects are still being felt in communities like these, and the state is still struggling with dry climates. Waterways management by the state is often misguided and leads to salmon deaths. For instance, the crowded conditions, warm water temperatures, and low water levels caused by the diverting of too much water from the Klamath River for irrigation purposes caused 34,000 salmon to die, including both commercial and endangered species. This hugely impacts underrepresented rural fishing communities. Managing waterways should be done by consulting communities that depend on those waterways, and taking the entire ecosystem into account rather than just one aspect of the problem. Fortunately, the federal government diverted water to prevent salmon deaths in the Klamath river a few years ago, but that doesn’t solve the whole problem. The world is warming, and near desert states like California are feeling the brunt of the impact in the US, especially in rural and low income communities, like the Hoopa Valley. We need to change the way we look at water, and change the way we look at our world. Agriculture, almond farms, meat production, cattle ranches, the American lawn, the daily shower, washing dishes, and doing laundry are all aspects of water use that we can help decrease, and do our part to help climate change and mitigate drought in communities like these.


Wong, K. (2018, October 31). California’s Drought Continues to Harm Native Tribes and Fishermen. Civil Eats.

El Niño and Drought in Cape Town

Luke Cantrel, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

Historically, Africa has been known for experiencing droughts, but in recent years, the strengthening of El Niño has dramatically increased the droughts’ frequency and severity, having severe repercussions for African communities, most notably, South Africa’s second largest city, Cape Town. Water resource workers say that in 2018, Cape Town experienced its worst pattern of drought in thirty-five years (Taylor, 2018). These severe droughts are putting incredible pressure on the resources of the city, threatening the population’s access to water for drinking and agriculture.

The primary reason behind Cape Town’s vulnerability to drought comes from its location with respect to the El Niño Southern Oscillation. During the El Niño phase, Cape Town and the surrounding region becomes significantly drier, leading to less precipitation and less river flow. According to Dr. Niko Wanders, the increased strength of El Niño in recent years has amplified the drought issue beyond the normal conditions (Wanders, 2021). These droughts are further exacerbated by the recent influx of residents. In recent years, more people in Africa have been moving from rural communities to cities like Cape Town. This creates an increased demand for water with a continuously decreasing supply in a small area (Taylor, 2018).

With El Niño amplifying the droughts and the migration of more people to the city, the major concern is that Cape Town will simply run out of water. Forecasts are on alert for when a Day Zero could occur. Day Zero refers to when the city is forced to shut off direct water to homes, and implement a ration system where people have to line up for their daily water allocation. Back in May 2018, city officials predicted Day Zero occurring by July. Luckily, subsequent rainfall and conservation efforts prevented this, but the threat has merely been postponed, not eliminated (Taylor, 2018). Today, unless conditions change to mitigate the drought, it is only a matter of time before Cape Town reaches critical water levels that cannot support its population.

With regards to combating these droughts, it appears that changing the infrastructure of the city is the most supported method for restoring Cape Town’s water supply. First of all, actions such as improving or altering the reservoirs and irrigation systems are being considered in order to minimize the amount of water being wasted or polluted (Wanders, 2021).

Additionally, time and effort are being invested into new sources of water, primarily, groundwater extraction (Taylor, 2018). All of these methods are being explored for the overall goal of gathering more water and being more efficient with its use, a task that is absolutely necessary with the growing strength of El Niño and the droughts imposed on Cape Town.


Taylor, D. (2018, May 11). Cape Town’s Crisis Draws Attention, But Worse Droughts Threaten Africa – World. ReliefWeb.

Wanders, N. (2021, February 25). Drought in South Africa Caused by El Niño, Human Action and Climate Change. Universiteit Utrecht.

Drought in Castle Pines, Colorado

Nicolette Cusate, Agricultural and Extension Education, Penn State Behrend

Castle Pines is a mid-size town in Douglas County, CO with a population of a little over 10,000 people. It is located in the Rocky Mountain region and is part of the South Platte watershed. In more recent years, Colorado has been a location of concern when it comes to drought, specifically in Douglas County. The county had been under watch as the dry season crept near, while drought categories for the area went from what was considered exceptional drought to extreme drought in just a four-month period. In addition, Douglas County only receives an average of approximately 20 inches of rainfall annually.

Castle Pines is vulnerable to drought for many reasons, but the main cause of its vulnerability is due to the South Platte basin, where residents of Castle Pines receive their water. Since 2012, there has been increasing temperatures in the areas in which snow melts off of the surrounding mountains that lead into the watershed, providing residents with water. But this increase in temperature means less overall annual snowfall, and therefore less water flowing into the South Platte basin, leading Castle Pines to a drought. Some reports compare the extent of the 2012 drought to that of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. Droughts, like the one happening now in Castle Pines, are projected to continue as global warming increases. In addition to already having a dry season coupled with drought, Castle Pines is also susceptible to wildfires. The most devastating forecasted impacts of this drought on Castle Pines is the potential to severely reduce the towns water supply more than it already has, which could in turn shut down businesses, government offices, and threaten livelihoods. The drought could also have long-term impacts on the surrounding areas’ agriculture and forests, as well as the wildlife that inhabits them. Recurring drought could also lead to the loss of recreational attractions, which contribute millions of dollars to Colorado’s economy annually

The solutions to the drought occurring in Castle Pines and all of Douglas County are not able to be carried out overnight, a lot of them will take a considerable amount of time. Residents are advised to be mindful of their water use and to preserve water they do have available to them. Additional reports recommend being very careful around sources of fire to prevent a wildfire from starting. There has been increasing pressure on water management companies to find a way to avoid the water shortages before they become too severe, but that requires money and additional infrastructure, and perhaps the most time out of any other solution. Currently, residents of Castle Pines, CO are doing their part during this challenging time, and are hoping for a breakthrough soon.


Drought Impacts in the Rocky Mountain Region. (2017, April 26). United States Department of Agriculture.

Miller, B. (2020, July 9). Drought Conditions in Colorado Currently Worst Among the U.S.

Wenzler, E. (2021, February 23). Douglas County Prepares for Likely Tough Wildfire, Drought Season. Douglas County News-Press. wildfire-drought-season,373216

Irbid, Jordan Drought

Shayleen Daley, International Relations, Penn State University

Irbid, Jordan lacks access to many water resources. Drought is a somewhat regular occurrence, but the severity of the continuing droughts is impacted severely by climate change, which exacerbates multiple variables that put additional strain on the city’s water systems, leading to increased water stress. Most of Jordan, including the city of Irbid, is in a desert climate, making what water is available particularly precious to them. War and instability in the region leaves the city particularly vulnerable to disruptions to water resources such as the Yarmouk Jordan river which flows down from Syria.

As an urban city with one of Jordan’s largest populations and multiple refugee camps, the effects of droughts in Irbid are amplified with more stress added onto an ever-decreasing water resource. From an economic perspective, this means the city now has to import more food from regions farther and farther away, as the land just outside struggles more and more to sustain reliable agricultural development.

The city diverts a significant portion of what water it does have towards irrigation. In the long run, this is likely to have a negative effect on the mortality rates of elderly and children in the city as water becomes less accessible.

Irbid is participating in water desalination projects promoted by the Jordanian government as a means of divesting itself from relying on underground water or rivers that prove less and less reliable as countries upstream divert water to fulfill their own needs. Along with desalination research, the city has wastewater treatment plants as a method to reuse water, and has started pulling on already stressed, non-renewing ground water to meet the population needs.

Unless an extremely cheap, effective, and reliable method of desalination is found, in the long run Irbid cannot sustain its current patchwork solutions. The climate in the region and the city has become too unreliable to sustain civilization for long if the global temperature average continues to increase and droughts continue to be forecasted.


Abdulla, F., & Farahat, S. (2020). Impact of Climate Change on the Performance of Wastewater Treatment Plant: Case study Central Irbid WWTP (Jordan). Procedia Manufacturing, 44, 205-212.

Rajsekhar, D., & Gorelick, S. (2017, August 30). Increasing drought in Jordan: Climate change and cascading Syrian land-use impacts on reducing transboundary flow. Science Advances, 3.

Drought in San Joaquin Valley, California

Sakura Davitt, Management Information Systems, Smeal College of Business

More than a third of California is experiencing a degree of drought. According to a bioclimatologist at Columbia’s Earth Observatory, the current drought may be the second worst in the past one thousand years. This is a conclusion reached through the study of past and present droughts using information from tree-rings. This “megadrought” is exacerbated by hot temperatures and a lack of precipitation due to climate change. Droughts bring about many problems that mainly deal with water shortages.

San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest area of agricultural production, is literally sinking. This is a result of farmers pumping groundwater from aquifers for irrigation. Around 60% of the water used by the state comes from the ground during drought periods. Thinning underground clay layers lead to a dip in the land, damaging infrastructure such as roads and bridges. During California’s 2011-2017 drought, some areas of the valley sank 60 centimeters per year. The current rate of water being pumped is unsustainable, as wet seasons don’t replenish aquifers enough. The presence of climate change makes saving aquifers even more important, as mountain snow as a source for surface water is becoming unreliable due to rising temperatures. Therefore, more and more farmers are turning to groundwater.

The biggest victim of drought in the valley is arguably East Porterville. During the five-year drought, this humble community’s wells dried up and its citizens were left bathing in portable showers provided by churches, dumping water in toilets in order to flush, and relying on donated pet bottles since the water was not potable.

Solutions for saving up water for irrigation include making smarter arrangements in dam logistics, growing crops that are not so irrigation heavy, and manually filling aquifers through methods such as flooding fields during wet seasons. There is also pressure to install water-efficient toilets, sinks, and the like. However, this probably is not enough to save groundwater unless agricultural production itself is reduced. There is also a push for hiring researchers to evaluate the extent of the crisis, since there is a serious lack of data. Without measurements, it is hard to come up with solutions. Nevertheless, the burdens of drought are clearly felt in East Porterville and the rest of Central Valley.


Kasler, D. (2020, April). California and West suffering worst ‘megadrought’ in centuries, study of tree rings shows. The Sacramento Bee.

Stevens, M. (2016, May 06). The Wells have run dry in this California town, so why is a $1.2- million water system untapped? Los Angeles Times.

Stokstad, E. (2020, April 16). Droughts exposed California’s thirst for groundwater. Now, the state hopes to refill its aquifers. Science.

The Drought Crisis in the Village of Mal Nor

Alexandra Diaz, Microbiology, Eberly College of Science Penn State University

Droughts threaten the livelihood of any community. However, it is the most isolated and the least technologically advanced communities that suffer the most when drought hits. The isolated villages of the Thar Desert of southeast Pakistan have been experiencing a three-year drought as reported by BBC (Jilliani, 2015). In particular, the small village of Mal Nor has been impacted rather severely by the ongoing drought (Johnstone, 2019). The southeastern desert regions of Pakistan experience long-withstanding droughts on a cycle. A 2019 report by the IFRC places this drought cycle at approximately every 10 years. However, in the same study, it is noted that Pakistan saw 45% less rainfall during the monsoon season before the beginning of the drought as a result of El Nino (2019). This has the implied possibility of worsening the impact of the ongoing drought. With climate change, it will only worsen more.

The isolated nature of the Mal Nor village leaves it particularly vulnerable. Surrounded by desert, commodities like running water, electricity and medical care are incredibly difficult to access for the residents of the village. It is for this reason that an ongoing drought can become deadly. The report by the BBC details that a result of the lack of running water is that inhabitants of the Thar villages are forced to rely on well water. The water in these wells is more often than not heavily contaminated and generally unfit for human consumption, however, it is consumed anyway out of the necessity of the situation (Jilliani, 2015). This can lead to rampant disease in the community exacerbated by the lack of access to medical treatment.

The drought eventually ended in the summer of 2020 with the monsoon season as detailed by NASA Earth Observatory (Patel, 2019). However, it is the proposed expectation that the next drought experienced by the Thar desert villages and in particular the Mal Nor village, will last longer than the previous one (“Pakistan: Drought…,” 2019). This is the warning as detailed by the situational analysis by IFRC.

The solution to the threat that prolonged droughts pose to the isolated village of Mal Nor is relatively complex. To solve the crisis and prevent or protect from future impact involves many different aspects in need of improvement. Firstly, the issue of the drought itself could lie with climate change. As the globe continues to warm, the pattern of weather systems becomes more variant. To address this, global emissions need to be evaluated and possibly lessened. Secondly, the implications on the cleanliness of the water available during the drought can be rectified by the introduction of running water from distant cities. This, of course, is much easier said than done, as the running water would need to cross a desert to reach the Mal Nor village. Finally, the occurrence and increase of disease brought on by the drought can be addressed by an improved means of access to medical treatment for those who inhabit the village.


Jillani, S. (2015). Ray of Light in Pakistan’s Drought Hit Thar Desert. BBC.

Johnstone, H. (2019). Ghosts of the Thar Desert: On the Climate Change Frontline in Pakistan. Financial Times.

Pakistan: Drought Emergency Plan of Action. (2019). IFRC.

Patel, K. (2019). Extreme Monsoon Rains in Pakistan. NASA Earth Observatory.

El Niño/La Niña in Sodo, Ethiopia

Amelia Emahizer, University Park

Sodo, a town in Ethiopia, is currently facing many problems with food insecurity and drought due to El Niño and La Niña. El Niño is when uncharacteristically warm weather happens in many parts of the world, while La Niña causes more severe precipitation events. One of the places that is affected the most is Sodo. Ethiopia in itself is a poor country, so when it comes to issues like food insecurity, drought, and flooding, there is not much that they can or will do to help their communities. Sodo itself is one of the more well-off areas of Ethiopia, being the center of health and education in the country. However, even with that, it is still extremely affected by the previously mentioned issues. Since El Niño provides uncharacteristically warm weather, Sodo goes into a period of drought when it is happening. This prevents crops from growing and people from being able to find clean drinking water. Without these things, the life expectancy of those in Sodo has gone down a lot (Berhane & Tesfay, n.d.). Without clean water, more health issues arise, and those health issues cannot be treated at Sodo’s hospitals without water. With La Niña, flooding is extremely common. Although this doesn’t cause water shortage issues like El Niño, it does prevent crops from being grown with ease. This yet again leads to food insecurity. El Niño and La Niña come at opposite times, meaning Sodo is struggling to grow crops and have sufficient water supplies a large portion of the time. With the climate changing, these issues are only projected to get worse, further shortening the life expectancy and many health and hunger problems. To combat these issues, Sodo is beginning to attempt to plant hardier crops with better timing (“Wolaita Zone,? n.d.). If they are planted before El Niño or La Niña begin, there is a much stronger possibility of the crops surviving and being able to be harvested. Irrigation is also attempting to be provided, increasing the likelihood of crops surviving, especially during drought. If climate change lessens, it is more likely that El Niño and La Niña can be predicted accurately, allowing for better preparation. With luck and effort, these things can happen, and life in Sodo, Ethiopia can be improved.


Berhane, A., & Tesfay, T. (n.d.). Impact of El Niño and La Niña on Agriculture in Ethiopia: Implications for El Niño and La Niña Adaptation and Food Security in Ethiopia. Preprints.

Wolaita Zone, Ethiopia. (2019, January 30). BRTE Project.

Hajjah Governate, Yemen

D. V. Escobar

One would think that for a planet that has such a large body of water like Earth, having drinking water would not be an issue, but unfortunately, for people in Hajjah, a Governorate of Yemen, having to worry about the availability of clean drinking water is a harsh reality. Weather and climate change such as global warming affected water cycle patterns and thus placing drinking water availability at risk due to increased droughts.

Continued extreme changes in climate will continue affecting water cycle patterns, making the climate drier. The lack of potable water could also lead to diseases and contaminants. For the people of Hajjah, the threat doesn’t just stop there. Civil unrest in the region could also lead to manipulating the availability of what little water is available for criminal reasons.

On the path that global warming is on, water cycle patterns will likely continue to change and continue to place the future and health of Hajjah citizens in jeopardy. There are things such as water filtration mechanisms, importing of bottled water, and assistance they can receive, but to make significant improvement and change, stopping the increased trend in climbing global warming will be key.

The Paris Climate agreement is a good formal start for the solution. One of the key aspects of this initiative is one that emphasizes the thinking of a unified effort. Therefore, thinking of only one’s immediate environment will only harm communities like those of Hajjah. For those that need a wakeup call that water shortage can only happen in regions like that of Hajjah, the U.S. already has regions such as California that have dealt with drought, and officials have already started to implement controls to water use for its citizens. Better water management and irrigation conservation need to be factored into government response. However, we don’t need to wait for governments to take formal actions. Everyone on Earth needs to consider the path we are all on and that we all need to take action now to save our future.


UNICEF. (2020, March 20). Water and the Global Climate Crisis: 10 Things You Should Know.

Law, T. (2019, September 30). These Six Places Will Face Extreme Climate Change Threats. Time.

Droughts’ Impact on the Hualapai Tribe in Arizona

Maggie Fechtman, Community, Environment, and Development, College of Agricultural Sciences

Arizona has been consistently facing droughts since 1994, due to the increasing heat and demand for water and decreasing precipitation (Drought frequently…, n.d.). The Hualapai Tribe stretches throughout three counties in Arizona, where the terrain is very hot and dry. Their reservation includes part of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. Although their reservation covers a large area, their population is only 1,621 (About the…, n.d.). Within their community, the economy is driven by recreational activities, tourism, cattle ranching, and arts that are ingrained in their culture. The droughts that their community has faced impacts both the Hualapai people themselves and their economy.

One of the most notable impacts of the droughts that the Hualapai Reservation faces is a water crisis. Due to the decreased supply of water, they are continuously selling or losing their livestock because the vegetation is dying and there is no spare water for the animals (Christensen, 2003). This both hurts their economy and causes them to have less food sources. Another way water is affected during droughts is the water level of the Colorado River is lowering. With tourism around the Grand Canyon being another driver of the Hualapai Tribe’s economy, when the water level drops, the rafting industry suffers. The water shortages are also problematic because the Hualapai have less access to clean drinking water and water for domestic uses like showering, doing the dishes, cooking, etc. (Christensen, 2003).

Another reason why the droughts affect the Hualapai Tribe is because it causes an increase in wildfires. As of 2003, there were more than 50 wildfires annually on the Hualapai Reservation, and with the increasing temperatures and severe droughts, the assumption could be made that this number has increased (Christensen, 2003). This forces part of the limited water supply to be used in order to stop the spread of these fires.

The Hualapai Tribe is vulnerable to these impacts from droughts because their droughts typically last between two and three years due to the extremely dry conditions. It is forecasted that the droughts will exacerbate the impacts detailed above, but the nine-member Tribal Council that governs the tribe has developed a detailed contingency plan as the droughts increase in severity. In addition, many United States agencies work with the tribe to help mitigate and reduce their vulnerability to the droughts. Luckily for the Hualapai Tribe, their water sources do not run out suddenly, giving them time to prepare and appropriately allocate their water as necessary during droughts. The following are both long-term and short-term mitigation projects the tribe has planned: Constructing a hydroelectric dam in order to conserve water and generate electricity, installing above ground water storage tanks for agriculture and wildfires, and installing more wells (Christensen, 2003).


Drought frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Arizona Department of Water Resources.

About the Hualapai Tribe. (n.d.).

Christensen, K. (2003, December). Cooperative drought contingency plan Hualapai reservation.

Hualapai. (2020, October 18). In Wikipedia.

Drought in Hatkarwadi, Maharashtra, India

Mikhail Galperin, Business Administration, Penn State World Campus 

In the Indian village of Hatkarwadi, Maharashtra, the few remaining residents are experiencing the worst drought in at least a decade. Buckets of water line the streets, put there to collect the little rainwater that may fall. Many of the village’s 35 wells sit dry and empty, even as farmers dig over 600 feet into the ground in search of the dwindling water reservoir. Over half of the residents have fled to neighboring cities in recent years, splitting apart families who cannot survive together without enough water. Three years of poor rain have decimated the once-fertile land, stripping villagers of their ability to produce products such as cotton and millet. Hundreds of animals have been moved out to avoid starvation. Throughout these terrible conditions, even water tankers are unable to deliver water due to the dilapidated condition of the one road that connects the village to other towns.

In addition to several years without proper rainfall, another major contributing factor is the ongoing deforestation in the area, leaving only 2% of the broader Beed district protected from the sun. Few farms are irrigated, leaving them dependent on localized rainfall to produce crops; even 10 days of no rainfall can lead to crop failure. The Godavari river has been drying out, along with the dams and wells in the area, forcing villagers to drink contaminated water treated with chlorine. Blame is also directed at industrial and urban areas that divert water sources at the expense of the poor, redirecting water to swimming pools and cash crops.

For many, the only hope of resolution is for the rains to return, but with climate change forecasted to make the region hotter and drier, this is unlikely. Without systemic change to address the other contributing factors behind the drought, there are little options. Outside intervention may be a possibility if charity organizations are willing to step in. Otherwise, like many have already done, they will be forced to leave their home and find work elsewhere, if they can.


Biswas, S. (2019, June 10). ‘There is no water. Why should people stay here?’. BBC.

El Niño Droughts in Cape Town

Oliviah Gearhart, Global and International Studies, College of Liberal Arts 

El Niño is a time period of unusually warm waters in the ocean, specifically in the Equatorial Pacific. This leads to periods of devastating rainfall for places in the southern part of the United States and periods of drought in the West Pacific. These El Niño caused droughts are particularly impactful in Cape Town, South Africa, where individuals of this city are experiencing a continuous water shortage (Grobler, 2018). This community is especially vulnerable to the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation because their water system relies completely on rainfall. It contains 14 dams and pipelines and cannot operate without reliable and stable rainfall. While the system is built to sustain droughts with a return interval of one in fifty years, climate change and the El Niño effect have exacerbated the issue of drought, leaving the system unable to withstand the effects (Otto et al., 2018). This can lead to dehydration and death in humans, and could also result in food scarcity and starvation.

One of the most recent El Niño events to affect and hurt Cape Town, South Africa was in 2015. There is a lot of uncertainty about El Niño’s next dry spell in Cape Town that will affect the population, leaving them without water. Scientists were saying that the next El Niño event to exacerbate issues would be in the summer of 2019; then it was declared that the La Niña event occurred in 2020. Thus, there is an uncertainty behind when the El Niño may return to cause problems in Cape Town, but it is not a complete mystery. The fact is that the El Niño will return at some point following the La Niña cycle, and Cape Town is severely underprepared to deal with the consequences of this event. The government of Cape Town is planning a “Day Zero” where they cut off water supply to everyone and turn taps off (Winter, 2018). This is meant to ration water, but it will be devastating to those in immediate need of hydration. More sustainable methods of addressing the El Niño cycle include increasing water efficiency, creating water restrictions to lessen demands, and increasing water supply through desalination plants (Otto et al., 2018). None of these methods of addressing the water shortage problem that is exacerbated by El Niño can be done overnight. It takes preparation and dedication by the government of Cape Town and of South Africa. If this community waits until the next El Niño cycle to start addressing this problem, there will be a myriad of consequences.


Otto, F. E. L. et al. (2018, July 13). Likelihood of Cape Town Water Crisis Tripled by Climate Change. World Weather Attribution. of-climate-change-in-the-2015-2017-drought-in-the-western-cape-of-south-africa/

Grobler, R. (2018, Nov 06). El Niño to Bring Less Rain and More Heat for South Africa: 5 Things You Need to Know. News 24.

Winter, K. (2018, Feb 20). Day Zero is Meant to Cut Cape Town’s Water Use: What Is It, and Is It Working? The Conversation.

Impact of extended droughts on water balance: Guyra, Australia

Eathan R. Gottshall

Over the past few years, there has been a major increase in wildfires and droughts occurring in locations that historically already had lower precipitation levels and more extreme wet/dry seasons. One of the most extreme cases is Australia, which has seen some of the most extreme droughts and wildfire frequencies across the world within the last ten years. Summer average temperatures during the dry season easily exceed 100°F, increasing evaporation and decreasing available surface water for commercial, agricultural, and ecological uses. The increase in evaporation, coupled with excessive groundwater extraction, has caused major concerns over the future sustainability of the natural water sources on the continent as rivers and lagoons continue to dry up. Even Australia’s largest dam Warragamba saw a 50% decrease in water level over the period of 2016-2019, this is a major warning sign for smaller water sources important to small communities and ecosystems across Australia. A large portion of the agricultural production in Australia occurs in the South and Eastern areas of the continent; these areas have also seen major drops in available fresh water causing a lack of irrigation and a dire forecast for the future of water availability for local towns and cities. Guyra is a small agricultural town of about 2000 residents just outside of Sydney, it produces billions in agricultural products yearly, but its local water supply has been drying up rapidly in recent years. In order to fight the drop in water levels, local organizations have built a pipeline to another local water source and are drilling deeper wells to find better water sources at lower depths. They have also dumped truckloads of fresh water from other sources into the lagoon to buy themselves more time to develop long-term management strategies. The Australian government has provided Guyra and towns just like it with forecasted projections of how long supplies will last, and they are incredibly bleak. Towns across Australia were expected to run out of available water within a year of when the forecasts were provided, giving little time for officials to come up with solutions. Without major changes in water management, Guyra and its neighbors will more than likely run out of water, be crippled economically, and cause major migrations to cities with better water sources. Residents of Guyra have already begun to see the major effects of the drought as fields begin to wither and farmers spend a ridiculous amount to truck in fresh water daily. If no major solutions are found soon, small communities like Guyra will take major economic hits and will more than likely create major civil unrest. Since 2019, Australia has created an annual water usage level for regions of the major agricultural producers in Australia. This may aid the issue, but precipitation is predicted to continue dropping and drought to continue increasing in arid climates such as Australia. This has caused citizens like those in Guyra to begin speaking out and advocating for stricter regulations to dampen climate change. Undoubtedly, soon we will begin to see a continued struggle in the daily lives of small communities and a major blow to the agricultural production of the country as a whole. Many critics say that the measures Australia has put into place are too little too late and they should be increased to decrease water usage even more and give the major basins an opportunity to recover. Only time will tell, but for small town residents like those in Guyra, this will be a constant worry for them and their families’ wellbeing for years into the foreseeable future.


Barret, J. (2019, September 27). Drought-hit Australian towns prepare for ‘unimaginable’ watercrisis. Reuters.

Desertification in Malia

Crystal N. Graziano

The threat that the community of Malia, on the Island of Crete, Greece faces is desertification. The eastern portion of Greece receives less rainfall than the western side, and Malia, on the eastern island of Crete, is one of the driest communities. Excessive water consumption, soil erosion, limited freshwater reserves, forest losses, vegetation losses, poor infrastructure, and lack of research investment into alternative water management all contribute to desertification in the Mediterranean, among other arid communities (United Nations, 2008).

Though the community uses most of its water for agriculture, it also uses its water to provide for the increased tourism developed over the past 20 years. Malia has an invigorating nightlife scene (TUC, 2019). Water scarcity is a huge threat to Malia, especially considering much of its gross domestic product is produced from tourism and one in five employed Grecians are hospitality workers, especially on the Island of Crete, where Malia is located, where 55% of locals are in hospitality (, 2020). Because Malia is a coastal community, it is more vulnerable to a reduction in soil fertility, which causes an inability of plant life to flourish due to high evaporation rates and salt water degrading the groundwater.

The water quality has been depleted over the past 30 years because of saltwater intrusion of the aquifer, over-pumping resulting in low aquifer levels, and high chlorine concentrations which degrade the groundwater. The aggressive draw of the agriculture activity has also increased the nitrate concentrations in the groundwater (TUC, 2019). Because the withdrawal of water is more than the natural recharge supply from rainfall, the aquifers become drained, which allows salt water to seep in and contaminate the remaining water. The increased temperatures of the area, due to climate change, can cause more intense and frequent droughts, which will strain the water supply even more. It is not necessarily a direct effect of not having enough rainfall, although Malia does not see much rainfall, about 343 mm of rainfall per year compared to Maryland’s average rainfall of 1409 mm per year (, 2020), but how quickly the water evaporates because of the elevated temperatures and lack of vegetation (climate, 2015).

A strategy had been proposed in 2003 by the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works including solutions developed by the community which are based on the reduction of water loss (versus the previous focus on finding new water sources) through improved irrigation systems structure, management of irrigation water, and reuse and recycling of water (United Nations, 2008). Other solutions include upgrading of piping systems to reduce wasted water via leaks through leak tracing and restoration, collection of rainwater by private tanks, funding of education and research into the effects of recycling runoff water, transfer of surface water, and managing forest ecosystems to reduce rainwater losses (, 2021). Desalination units have been used in other communities, which convert salt water into fresh drinking water, and the eastern islands of Greece are hoping for funding to build their own units, so they don’t have to rely on expensive water shipments from Athens (Heggie, 2020).


TUC. (2019). Malia – Greece. Sustain-Coast.

United Nations. (2008). Desertification: Greece: Sustainable Development. nalReports/greece/Greece_II_Drought_Desertification.pdf

United Nations. (2008). Combating Desertification. international-conference-combating-desertification

Greece: Desertification Greece: Vulnerabilities. (2021). Climate Change Post. (2015). Malia Climate Greece. Climate-Data. (2020). Maryland At a Glance: Weather. Maryland.

Heggie, J., (2020). Preventing a water crisis in Greece. National Geographic. content-where-our-water-goes-greece, (2020). Greece Unemployment rate from 1999 to 2020. Statista. in-greece/

Drought in Murrurundi, Australia

Sarah Kern, Environmental Resource Management, College of Agricultural Sciences

A severe threat to the town of Murrurundi, Australia is drought. This town has had water restrictions implemented for years to ration water sources. Water has been transported into the town from outside resources to help increase water availability (Connell, 2020). Murrurundi has become almost fully reliant on this water being transported in by trucks. The town water supply by itself could no longer sustain the people living there. The farmers in the area were also struggling because there is not enough water to sustain their operations and livestock. The dryness of the ground has even caused some buildings to crack and vegetation to die (Connell, 2020).

This community is particularly vulnerable because of its location in Australia. Murrurundi experiences extreme heat, especially during the summer. Precipitation in Murrurundi also continues to decrease as temperatures increase. There has been little rain in Murrurundi for several years, causing the river that runs through the town to dry up (Watson et al., 2020).

If climate change continues to worsen, it is likely that drought conditions will continue to threaten Murrurundi in the future. The impacts on the town have been devastating from drought. Local businesses struggle to survive under the water restrictions, farmers have lost their animals, and residents have struggled to perform basic tasks like doing their laundry (Connell, 2020). A new pipeline project in the town will bring in a more reliable water source, so the negative impacts on the community should lessen for the time being. Recently, rain has also returned to the area which has brought back some of the river water and vegetation as well (Watson et al., 2020). However, the community will still have to follow some water restrictions. Until the negative impacts of climate change improve, it is unlikely that the town of Murrurundi will have a consistent and unlimited water supply without restrictions.

One solution to the threat is to have Australian legislation put more emphasis on addressing climate change. A significant portion of Australia’s economy relies on income from fossil fuels (Watson et al., 2020). Because of this, there is not as big of a push towards renewables due to fear that it will negatively impact this industry. Australia is therefore contributing to the emissions problem even though they are suffering from negative results of climate change (Watson et al., 2020). Australian legislation needs to discourage the fossil fuel industry instead of encouraging it. Another solution that has already been put in motion is the implementation of a new pipeline into the city. This pipeline will provide a more reliable, plentiful water source and will lessen the current water restrictions the town has been following for several years. While this provides a short term solution, until climate change is fully addressed, the threat of drought will continue to worsen for Murrurundi, Australia.


Connell, C. (2020, May 29). Murrurundi’s taps turned on in drought-ravaged town living for years on restrictions. ABC.

Watson, A., Stevens, A., & Devitt, P. (2020, January 14). The parched legacy of drought in Murrurundi, an Australian town with beer but no water. CNN.

Drought: Phoenix Arizona

Anna Kiessling

Many US cities are extremely impacted by droughts each year. Even though it may seem as if a drought would not have the same damage as a hurricane, it certainly can with its slow spread and huge impact on the community. There are a lot of risks that come with droughts including loss of crops, risk of wildfires, the widespread water shortages, and many others. Phoenix, Arizona is more likely to be impacted by droughts each year because of its extreme dry state, even during wet years, and climate change will make the area hotter and drier. The Colorado River Basin, which provides the city’s water supply, looks to be drying up due to droughts, which can have a negative effect on both its inhabitants and environment.

In 2018, 181 people died in Phoenix due to heat-related causes. This issue shows the alarming threats of the rise in temperatures that people have to be aware of to keep each other in the community safe. These temperatures have the potential to cause dehydration and heatstroke that can lead to other severe health risks. The heat could not only put the residents’ health in a vulnerable state but can also have detrimental impacts on the environment.

With the climate changing ever so rapidly, the environment, including wildlife and farming, is not given enough time to adapt to these changes, putting things in danger. Increasing rates in wildfires will lead to residents seeing a decline in the quality of air, which will have an effect on people with respiratory and heart issues. Farming is also big in the community, with about two thirds of its water going to the crops. Agriculture is the economic powerhouse of Arizona, so any threat to it at all could be devastating for the future of the communities.

In dry conditions like Phoenix, it is very common for a drought to be a leading cause of wildfires. This issue is a forecasted impact that the community will prepare to take on as it is projected to see 115 at-risk days for wildfires each year by 2050. The community will also see a 12.2 percent decrease in crops for every degree Celsius of warming that occurs. Because of the heat island effect which allows Phoenix to get up to 21 degrees Fahrenheit hotter, its extreme heat days can go from 80 to 247 by the end of the century.

Because of climate change, desert cities like Phoenix are in constant threat, and they must know how to plan and prepare accordingly. However, the community is in a climate crisis that is subject to immediate action. Luckily, Phoenix, Arizona is built for the drought. They have developed a long-term strategy to ensure the city is in the best positions to respond to these changing conditions. These plans include educating people on the present conditions as well as future ones, maximizing the efforts to get water supplies when they need to, managing water supplies today to meet the community’s needs, and planning and preparing the residents now so the impact of the drought could be greatly lessened. Other ways to mitigate the drought include building green buildings and planting more plants to reduce the effects of the city’s heat island.


Drought Information. (2021). City of Phoenix.

How the Climate Crisis is Affecting Arizona. (2019, November 25). The Climate Reality Project.

Drought in Guyra, Australia

Ian King

For my final capstone, we will finish with the drought ravaged community of Guyra, New South Wales, Australia. Guyra is a small community of about 2,000 people in eastern Australia, a few hundred miles from Sydney. It is a historically cool area that grows livestock, primarily sheep and cattle, and some vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes (Guyra…, 2021).

The major threat to Guyra is extreme drought that has been rampant in the country in recent years. The drought is likely caused by surface sea temperatures on the rise, which affects rainfall patterns. Further, the rising air temperatures that have been occurring over the last 100 years have been affecting both the drought and subsequent devastating wildfires that have also been widespread over the last few years (Barrett, 2019). Primarily, the climate variability is caused by ENSO. ENSO deeply affects rainfall across these areas with the El Niño part of the oscillation being associated with the dry years (Nicholls, 1998). Both of those occurrences are a substantial threat both to the people that live in the area as well as their forms of livelihood. The losses in 2019 alone were estimated to be 100 million Australian dollars (Robertson, 2019).

A seemingly equally large challenge is both local politics and the fact that many of the inhabitants simply do not believe in climate change. They will blame fires on power lines hitting dry tinder or have the belief that it is all cyclical and will change again for the better (Butler, 2019). Unfortunately, as we have seen elsewhere in this course, these views are both dangerous and hard to overcome. If the very people who are suffering the losses cannot advocate for sustainable change, then those of us from thousands of miles away will meet with little success. Without addressing both the climate change and the attitudes, the future holds more rainfall instability, more wildfires, and a much worse local impact to the habitability of Guyra if those who live there cannot work to help themselves.

Many temporary solutions have been tried in the area of Guyra. Just to get by, the local government was trucking in water, which cost about Aus$1 million a year. This solution is not sustainable. They are also building a pipeline into the area, but this solution is also not sustainable for the level of drought they have. Drilling deeper into aquifers has been attempted, but once depleted, they will be in the same situation (Butler, 2019). The only ultimate solutions are the ones that address climate change on a global scale. While localities can manage their resources as best they can and reduce their own abuses, we as a world need to come together to do all that we can to slow the melting of the ice caps and sheets, slow rising in sea surface and air temperatures, and reduce our input of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. We have one planet; we need to set aside our egoic desires and think of our home and all the creatures, including humans, that inhabit it, first.

Owner Sam White at Bald Blair Lagoon in Guyra. His farmland has been hit hard by the drought and his lagoon is now completely dry. Picture: Simon Scott


Barrett, J. (2019, September 27). Drought-hit Australian Towns Prepare For ‘Unimaginable’ Water Crisis. Reuters. drought-water/drought-hit-australian-towns-prepare-for-unimaginable-water-crisis idUSKBN1WC2EP

Butler, G. (2019, September 18). As Drought-ravaged Australia Burns, Voters Cling to the Idea That Climate Change Is ‘Unproven’. Vice. change-crisis-global-warming-unproven

Nicholls, N. (1998). El Nino – Of Droughts and Flooding Rains.,everywhere%20it%20strikes%2C%20including%20Australia.

Robertson, H. (2019, September 19). ‘Day Zero’ Looms in Australian Outback as Climate Change Bites.

Guyra, New South Wales. (2021, March 19). In Wikipedia.,_New_South_Wales

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El Niño in Tizamarte

Madison Kinsley

El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs every three to eight years. This phenomenon affects the tropical Pacific by warming the waters, which in turn affects wind patterns and changes the precipitation in many areas. The village of Tizamarte, located in eastern Guatemala, is plagued by widespread droughts due to El Niño weather patterns, which are only worsening. This threat is especially harmful to this community because it has deeply impacted their agricultural community. The drought causes disruptions in entire harvests of crops used to feed the village of Tizamarte. This community is especially vulnerable to threats caused by El Niño due to the widespread poverty in this community that is also present in many parts of Guatemala. Many people in the city and surrounding areas rely on the land for their food, as well as their income source. Where farmers used to be able to make up to 100 quetzales (about 14 US dollars) they are now making less than half of that. Many farmers attempt to look for other jobs when their crops constantly fail due to droughts. However, there is a shortage and these jobs do not pay nearly enough, leaving farmers without a stable source of income, and leaving their communities starving due to lack of successful harvests. The people suffering most from the droughts are the children of Tizamarte. The country of Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of malnourished children in the world, meaning nearly fifty percent of children in Guatemala are underfed to the point of starvation. The forecasted impacts do not look good for this village as the El Niño weather impacts last years and cause uncertainty about whether the financial risk for the inhabitants of Tizamarte is worth it, as many of its inhabitants have taken to fleeing the village in hopes of a better life. However, there are few solutions to help the drought-plagued community. The most common solution for the inhabitants of Tizamarte is to migrate to other areas where they will have better living conditions and more opportunities for a stable source of income.


Abbott, J. (2019, May 13). ‘No other option’: Climate change driving many to flee Guatemala. Al Jazeera.

Lakhani, N. (2019, July 29). ‘People are dying’: How the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US. The Guardian.

Pons, D. (2021, February 18). Climate extremes, food insecurity, and migration in Central America: A complicated Nexus – Guatemala. Relief Web. migration-central-america-complicated-nexus

Drought in Taiwan

Alexandra Kovacs

Taiwan is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than 50 years for the country. This drought has led the government to make the decision to halt irrigation for many of the small rice farms in the country. One area specifically hit hard is in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where tens of thousands of acres of small farms are having their access to water cut off. The government is prioritizing the large factories that make computer chips to have access to water, while the small farmers receive a payout for their crops that will not be growing this year. The main factory in Hsinchu is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and with demand for electronics and the chips that go in them ever increasing, and with the predictions for more droughts in the future, things are not looking good for the small rice farmers in the area.

The government has tried many different strategies to try and bring water to the area. The government tried to seed the clouds above reservoirs by burning chemicals, they have reduced water pressure, and they built a seawater desalination plant. They built a pipeline to the rainier north side of the island, but none of these actions did enough, and the country felt forced to cut off irrigation to the farmers to preserve the income received from being home to the chip plant. The plant said they have not been affected by the drought yet, probably because the government is doing all they can to make it that way, but unfortunately at the expense of the small farmers and citizens of the country. Tian Shou-shi, a rice grower in Hsinchu said “TSMC and those semiconductor guys, they don’t feel any of this at all, We farmers just want to make an honest living.”

Most of the water that is used by citizens comes from seasonal typhoons in the area. Not one made landfall last rainy season, which is something that has not happened in almost 60 years, although it is said that Taiwan’s rains are highly variable, so many people are not believing that drought in Taiwan is a permanent problem yet. Many believe that last year was just a bad year and things will get better. If the problem continues to get worse and rice farmers continue to fall low on the prioritized list, and the rain does not come, many believe that the agriculture industry on the island will continue to die out and be replaced by more manufacturing jobs.


Zhong R. & Chang-Chien, A. (2021, April 8) Taiwan’s Drought Pits Chip Makers Against Farmers. The New York Times.

Drought in Guyra, Australia

Alyssa Martin, Advertising/Public Relations, Bellisario College of Communications

For this entry I chose to talk about a small town in Eastern Australia by the name of Guyra, which is inhabited by about 2,000 people. Guyra has been suffering tremendously from drought caused by climate change. The increase in sea surface temperatures has been severely altering the precipitation. This community is particularly vulnerable because air temperature has also risen. Given this combination of altered precipitation and air temperatures, the droughts seem to be here to stay for quite some time. They are even struggling to find drinking water, and their vegetation is dying off like they have never seen before.

The forecasted impact for this community is really hard to imagine for someone like me, who has access to clean, running water whenever I want it. It really puts into perspective how grateful I should be for something I take for granted on a daily basis. Guyra is fully expecting to be out of drinking water in a little over 1 year’s time. The exact number that they were given was 400 days, and they are quite literally counting down until that time runs out. One of the largest dams nearby has depleted tremendously, when it was full just 3 years ago. This is just one example of how this town is struggling to get the resources that it needs.

The solution to this threat of drought right now for Guyra is that there is fresh water being brought in on trucks and they are trying to find new spots to drill, hoping that this will allow them to gain access to more resources. They also need to adapt by lowering demand for water for personal and agricultural use. The government has also discussed the issues, but the Prime Minister of Australia seems to believe that people are overlooking Australia’s ability to overcome this drought. He thinks by meeting the Paris Climate Agreement emission numbers, that the issues will soon begin to resolve on their own. The people of Guyra seem to think differently, and they definitely are frightened because they are living through the worst drought they have ever seen.


Barrett, J. (2019, September 27). Drought-hit Australian towns prepare for ‘unimaginable’ water crisis. Reuters.

Drought in Fort Jones, California

Brett Miller 

Drought is the primary threat to Fort Jones, a small agriculturally based community in Northern California. More than 20 local farms, including Five Marys’ Farms and Four Brothers’ Heritage Farm, rely on ample access to high-quality water to grow their crops and produce their livestock, which in California is usually cattle. Their position in the Klamath Basin in Northern California is a popular drought hotspot. From December 2011 to March 2017, this region experienced a serious and prolonged drought. Drought issues are resurfacing in this region in 2021. The high percentage of community members who own/work and depend on farming in this area makes Fort Jones particularly vulnerable to drought. This year, about 39% of California is experiencing severe drought, including the area where Fort Jones is located, and it is expected to have a negative impact on crop and farm outputs as the growing season begins. Weather patterns can change as the effects of climate change intensify, and droughts in the United States are expected to last longer. Furthermore, moisture deficiency is a problem in Northern California, where Fort Jones is located. Moreover, precipitation variability by year is expected to increase in the Fort Jones region, which means that the frequency of droughts and dry years will increase. This is not good news for Fort Jones farmers, as water access is limited, and their demand for water will only rise as climate change affects worsen, increasing the likelihood of water shortages in Fort Jones. Water is difficult to transport and/or produce in large amounts, making solutions for drought and dry areas difficult to come by. Water conservation and relocation are two approaches to dealing with current water levels. Strict water controls enforced by the local and/or state governments may be enough to ensure that both farming and residential uses are not harmed in this town. The Fort Jones Water Company was issued a notice of unavailability due to decreasing river flow and height in order to preserve the flow/volume of the Scott River’s water, which is a source of water for numerous local farms and livestock. Another potential limitation is one close to what was implemented in 2014, when farmland water allocations were required to be decreased by 50%. This solution may be feasible during the non-growing season/months, but it may damage local farmers to the point that they believe it is easier to relocate rather than drastically reduce water use.


California. (2021, June 8). U.S. Drought Monitor.

Carlmark, R. (2021, April 22). Updated drought map shows half of California experiencing ‘extreme’ conditions. ABC 10.

Kaye, B. (2021, April 15). How a historic drought is threatening the future of Klamath Basin farms and endangered species. Siskiyou Daily News.

Pierce, D. W., Kalansky, J. F., & Cayan, D. R. (2018, August). CLIMATE, DROUGHT, AND SEA LEVEL RISE SCENARIOS FOR CALIFORNIA’S FOURTH CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENT. State of California Energy Commission.

Population Demographics for Fort Jones, California in 2020, 2019. (n.d.). Suburban Stats.

State Water Resources Control Board. (2016, July 5). California Water Boards.

2011–2017 California drought. (2021). In Wikipedia.

Drought – Guyra, Australia

Ryan Mutter

Drought is not a new concept to people residing in Australia. In many parts of Australia, lack of rain and dry climate has ravished agriculture and stunted economic growth. Dams and reservoirs dry up quicker than they can be replenished. This is the harsh reality of life in many parts of Australia.

In the small town of Guyra, Australia, located north of Sydney, drought took on a new meaning in 2019. The people of this small eastern community watched helplessly as their freshwater lagoon was decimated into a nearly dry reservoir. With a population of 1,983 people, the need for water was growing with every passing day. With an estimated 400 days until drying, this issue became critical to the town’s survival. An ongoing threat of global warming has created warmer ocean temperatures, impacting rainfall patterns and making this community, along with many others, a victim of intermittent drought since 2016. These harsh conditions quickly decimate dam, river, and lagoon levels, leaving people in fear of economic collapse, loss of jobs, and possibly the threat of their own lives (Reuters, 2019).

Temporary solutions to the problem in Guyra include trucking fresh water into the town, building a pipeline to a local dam, and experimental drilling to possibly tap into a clean water source underground (Reuters, 2019). None of these resolutions have addressed the larger issue of climate change, and have created even more financial burden. Although many want to make changes to address the issue of climate change, a conservative government debates that strict environmental action would hinder its economy and prevent any progress. The local government supported new coal mines despite global protests. But at a recent climate change summit involving world leaders in New York, Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, has maintained his stance that Australia is on task to reduce emissions on par with the Paris Agreement (Reuters, 2019).

Unfortunately, according to the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, some droughts across Australia remain in effect today. There continue to be deficiencies in rainfall patterns and deficits in dam, river, and reservoir levels in eastern Australia. Southwest regions of Australia are seeing a decrease in root-zone moisture of soil affecting agriculture (Drought, 2021). As far as Guyra, they are no longer in dire straits but continue to face the effects of climate control. Until we tackle the broad issue of climate control and more specifically, the unchecked production of greenhouse gasses, communities such as Guyra will continue to struggle with obscure weather patterns that directly impact their lives. Band-aids and temporary solutions will be exhausted if we do not stop using fossil fuels and creating excess CO2 in the atmosphere. A shift to solar energy and windmills could dramatically reduce emissions. But before any real progress happens, we must first come together as a world unit and lay down strategies and guidelines like what has been offered in the Paris Agreement. This is our first step in healing our home.


Drought. (2021, February 5). Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology.

Reuters. (2019, September 28). Drought-hit Australian towns prepare for ‘unimaginable’ water crisis. The Indian Express.

Drought in New Harmony

Sabian Neidich, Philosophy, Penn State Behrend

New Harmony is a small town in the south western corner of Utah in Washington County. Its population just increased to above two hundred and thirty people in 2019. And it sits next to a sub par water reservoir. Coincidentally, that same year, the town and the county faced its worst drought since 1929. In 2019, the entire county went for over one hundred and forty days without a new supply of water. This has spurred the community into discussing ways to acquire alternate water sources for occasions similar to this. According to the statistical data on, these droughts will only get worse and more frequent. This of course means that the population of New Harmony will be subject to more extreme drought, possibly causing them to be out of water for extended periods of time.

Though New Harmony may be at risk, they are also one of the best contributors to their county in the fight against the droughts they face. Following the drought of 2019, the county instated the Ash Creek Project, where a pipeline will be made to transport water from the Ash Creek Reservoir at New Harmony and transport it to a reservoir at Toquer. The project is still underway as the reservoir at Toquer must still be made. This would benefit the entire surrounding area, providing them with a source of water where there was previously none. This would not be detrimental to the Ash Creek Reservoir, as the idea is to simply transport the water that would naturally be lost to seepage. This seepage has been an issue since the 1960s when the reservoir was built, and is claimed to never have worked to the degree it should. The plan also involves things such as using a closed pressurized piping system instead of an open one to prevent water loss from evaporation.


Utah. (2021). U.S. Drought Monitor.

Kessler, M. (2019, November 9). Water managers: New Toquer Reservoir will bring additional reliability to county water system. St. George News.

New Harmony, Utah. (2021).

Peery, L. (2019, November 5). Washington County’s latest proposed reservoir will help with water scarcity. The Spectrum.

The Dead Sea, Jordan/Israel

Sophie Newlin

The Dead Sea is an endorheic (having no outflow to other bodies of water) salt lake in the Jordan Rift Valley. It is a common attraction for many tourists, as the salinity of the water is very high, allowing people to float due to its high density. However, it is facing a huge problem. Due to climate change, the Dead Sea is shrinking. The Dead Sea receives its water from rivers and streams, and loses it by evaporation, which is what causes the 33% salinity. For many years, water in and water evaporated has been equal, creating a steady water level. In the 1960s, one of the Dead Sea’s main freshwater sources was diverted, and in the 1970s, another source was diverted, reducing its water level dramatically. Scientists say that equilibrium will be restored, but not before it loses another third of its mass (Moss & Morton, 2020).

As the Dead Sea shrinks, different problems arise. Freshwater aquifers line the perimeter of the lake, and as the water level recedes, the aquifers flow into salt deposits, dissolving them. As the deposits dissolve, the earth will collapse to make way for sinkholes. In the past 15 years, over 1,000 sinkholes have appeared. The lake is also evaporating by human processes, like mining different minerals, which is speeding up the sinking. The Dead Sea’s surrounding ecosystems are also seeing the effects of the lake’s reduction. Many oases feed the Dead Sea and are receding away right along with it, displacing many indigenous animals and plants that rely on them. Agriculture also takes away much of the freshwater needed to keep the Dead Sea level, despite only making up three percent of Israel’s gross product (Hammer, 2005).

According to scientists and environmental experts, one way to save the Dead Sea and these communities is to stop diverting and using up freshwater sources. However, agricultural lobbying is much stronger than environmental lobbying, so many believe this is not an attainable solution. Another way is to use alternative water sources. Friends of the Earth Middle East, an environmental organization, proposes that households and farmers conserve water use and regulate freshwater diversion. The Israeli government is also promoting wastewater treatment and desalination facilities (Hammer, 2005).


Hammer, J. (2005, October 1). The Dying of the Dead Sea. Smithsonian Institution.

Moss, T. & Morton, C. (2020, July 12). 18 Destinations Impacted By Climate Change. Condé Nast Traveler.

Drought in Vosburg

Chris Nicola, Civil Engineering, Penn State University Park

Vosburg, a town located in Northern Cape Province, Africa, highlights severe cases of drought and food shortages. Not only does the barren landscape contribute to its dire circumstances, but also the dried-up streams and dwindling livestock. This drought, which has ravaged much of South Africa the past few months, is responsible for financial struggles among farmers in the area. According to the United Nations, millions of inhabitants endure such food shortages, especially in less prominent towns such as Vosburg (Magome, 2019). Louis van der Merwe, a farmer located in Vosburg, blames the drought for his livestock losses over the past 2 years. Approximately $28 million will be needed to overturn such devastation imposed on thousands of farms according to Agri-SA, a farmers’ organization. In addition to the financial toll left on the town’s inhabitants, many insurance policies along with medical aid have been rescinded. Racial divide is another issue, as the wealthy locate themselves in more developed areas, leaving the poor in the dilapidated, arid parts of town. Vosburg is an exception as there is a degree of collaboration between large- and small-scale farms.

It is evident that Vosburg and even Northern Cape are susceptible to drought due to the low water supply in the region and the high demand. This is most likely a result of climate change. Such variations in climate are responsible for uneven rainfall distribution, leaving certain regions with excess water supply and others with a shortage. Another factor involves El Niño, which describes patterns of warming in the Pacific along the equator. This phenomenon influences rainfall patterns and causes extreme climate variations (Pearson & Grobler, 2018). Because of these factors, poor crop development ensues. Desertification, identified as a period of drying, has had disadvantageous effects on certain towns’ water reservoirs as well, further stressing the problems of shortage (Van Dam, 2017). Vosburg is one town where such problems occur.

The short term forecasted impacts on Vosburg are not completely dire. Christian Engelbrecht, a notable meteorologist of the South Africa Weather Service, states that only slightly below average rainfall is expected in the area (Magome, 2019). As long term climate models suggest, drying trends will become more intense, thus reducing rainfall significantly in these areas (Van Dam, 2017). Ways to mitigate these effects involve imposing water restrictions on communities, some of which have already been implemented in areas local to Southern Africa. Clearly, demand for water must be reduced to offset the limited supply, and this implies that residents make sacrifices. This may involve changing crops as well.


Van Dam, D. (2017, June 01). Cape town contends with worst drought in over a century. CNN. drought/index.html

Person & Grobler, R. (2018, November 16). El Nino to bring less rain and more heat for SA: 5 things you need to know. News 24. for-sa-5-things-you-need-to-know-20181116

Magome, M. (2019, November 21). Southern Africa’s deadly drought leaving millions Hungry. AP News.

Staff, S. (2016, February 12). Drought caused by El Nino Threatening southern Africa: UN. threatening-southern.html

Drought evacuates Indian Village

Zachary Plunkett, Software Engineering, Penn State Behrend

Throughout India’s history, droughts have caused catastrophes. Typically, these droughts would cause crops to fail, leading to famine that would affect the population. Often these droughts would coincide with El Niño-related winds that end up causing dry air to be pulled from Central Asia into India. Normally, this would cause what would be expected to be a wet and humid monsoon season to be dry. Climate change has caused an increase in the drought prone regions of India.

One of these locations that has been heavily impacted by is the village of Hatkarwadi. Hatkarwadi, like many other rural locations in India, relies completely on wells for water as the region is extremely dry. Historically, Hatkarwadi was known to have completely dry summers and winters that average about 75mm of rainfall.

With Hatkarwadi already being located in a dry region, climate change has turned the village and its surrounding areas into a wasteland. The area used to receive yearly rainfall to help contribute to the ground water stores, but has now been experiencing year long droughts. This has caused the ground stores of water that feed the wells and hand pumps to be dry for much of the year. In other areas of India with similar issues, people are able to purchase water from tanker trucks, but that is not possible for the residents of Hatkarwadi who rely upon agriculture for their income. As can be expected, years of drought have not allowed for significant crop yields.

For water and work, most of the inhabitants of Hatkarwadi have had to relocate to other cities. Records show that the village used to have a population of over 2,000 residents, but has now dropped to only 300. Almost all of the remaining inhabitants rely upon seasonal employment in the cities, leaving only a handful of residents in the summer. Currently, there is no plan to help the village as there is no future for the area as long as water is as scarce as it is.


Biswas, S. (2019, June 10). ‘There Is No Water. Why Should People Stay Here?’ BBC News.

Relph, S. (2019, June 11). Indian Villages Lie Empty as Drought Forces Thousands to Flee. The Guardian.

Drought in India. (2021). In Wikipedia.

Hatkarwadi, Maharashtra. (2020). In Wikipedia.,_Maharashtra.

Drought in Thar Desert

Elizabeth Raifsnider, Civil Engineering, Penn State Harrisburg

Thar Desert is located in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is known as the Great Indian Desert and is a natural boundary that separates Pakistan and India. Since 2013, this area has been struggling with drought conditions. Large monsoons that used to bring two months of rain now barely bring 20 days of rain. This drastic reduction in rainwater has severely impacted the villages in the area, and it is only forecasted to worsen with climate change. Water stocks that used to hold water are now empty. Villagers must walk at least twice a day to a well to retrieve their water. More often than not, by the time the villagers return, their water is contaminated and unhealthy for consumption. The drought has also affected the vegetation growth in the area. Low rainfall has devastated the crop production. This causes the cattle and livestock to die of starvation and dehydration. With the reduction of crops and livestock, villages are suffering, and children are starving to death. If these drought conditions continue there could be a “water war” between neighboring India and Pakistan.

Finances are a concern when looking at possible solutions to this major problem. The Pakistan government has, however, created a 33-million-dollar project to install 750 purification pumps across the area. These pumps pump the underground water to the surface where it is filtered, through a process called reverse osmosis. The biggest of the pumps can hold two million gallons of purified water each day. This much water could help 300,000 villagers. This system is also beneficial because it runs on solar panels. These pumps will greatly benefit the health and livelihood of the villages in the area. It will help them have access to clean and healthy water which will reduce the waterborne disease deaths. It will also give them a way to irrigate their crops and water their livestock, decreasing the starvation of the people. The drought conditions in Thar desert are fatal to the people living in the local villages, but with the financial support and installation of the water pumps, people will be able to get back on their feet and start living a fruitful life in the desert.


Ghosts of the Thar Desert: On the Climate Change Frontline in Pakistan. (n.d.). Financial Times.

Jillani, S. (2015, March 31). Ray of Light in Pakistan’s Drought-hit Thar Desert. BBC News.

Drought in Aspen, Colorado

Kate Ready

On August 18th, 2020, the small, beautiful town of Aspen, Colorado was elevated from severe drought conditions to extreme drought conditions. The city entered into stage 2 water restrictions that included no washing of sidewalks, patios, tennis courts or any paved areas, no refilling of swimming pools, no non-commercial washing of private vehicles, and many more.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, which started in 2000, has recorded some of the most intense drought periods the country has experienced in recent times (since 2000). The drought system is measured in terms of categories ranging from D0 to D4, with D4 being the most extreme. The most intense score Aspen has received was recorded as a D4 during the week of August 18th, 2020 and has extended until March 2020.

A drought in this area has severe consequences, as the city and state are landlocked. The main water supply for Aspen is from local streams. However, these have been running at 40-70% of median flows currently. Without this water supply, homes will not have accessible drinking water, and neither will livestock or agriculture.

While many associate precipitation with rain, it is important to remember snow. Aspen is a ski town and relies on their snowy winter slopes for tourism, a main source of revenue for this city. It has been noted in the Aspen Times that the snowfall recorded during December of 2020 was only 14 inches, a significant decline from their average 21.8 inches. Dry slope conditions reduce the number of tourists and/or regulars that visit the beautiful ski resorts. A resort, Aspen Highlands, was reported to have been forced to open later after the season to make up for their lost business because of dry conditions. Ski seasons are becoming shorter due to the lack of precipitation. This demonstrates that drought does not only affect water supply but major economies in this region.

Currently, the present-day drought is not expected to worsen or better within the next thirty days. Eventually the drought will ease, however, with the coming El Nino, the west will become drier and will potentially affect this community once more. As temperatures across the globe spike, the amount of snowfall will decline and will also melt at faster rates affecting the ski season here.

A study published by the city of Aspen showed the total precipitation rate has decreased by 6 percent and the amount falling as snow decreased 16 percent. In the future, Aspen’s annual precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow. The city also expects there to be no skiable snow in Aspen by 2100 under the highest emissions scenarios. Mid-summer droughts will become more frequent and normal resulting in agricultural loss for the community.

Solutions for this drought in Aspen can first be linked to surrounding reservoirs and making sure that there is enough emergency water supply for an extended period of time. However, most of these reservoirs would run out in a matter of days because of everyday water usage by the residents around them. There also needs to be additional policies set up around water trading opportunities due to the position of the city. It is landlocked, so having a relationship and trading agreement with coastal states would help. Corporations, not only local to Aspen but nationwide, should reevaluate their water management policies and create more widespread awareness of the value of water.

Water is something everyone knows we need, however it’s extremely easy to take it for granted and to not realize its true value until it turns into a luxury.


Aspen Global Change Institute, Center of the American West, Rural Planning Institute, Stratus Consulting, Inc, & Wildlife & Wetland Solutions, LLC. (2006). CLIMATE CHANGE AND ASPEN: AN ASSESSMENT OF IMPACTS AND POTENTIAL RESPONSES. Aspen Global Change Institute.

Conditions for Aspen, CO (Pitkin County). (n.d.).

Condon, S. (2020, December 4). Ongoing drought starts to take toll on Aspen area. The Aspen Times.

Doyle, M., & Harrison, C. (2014, December 10). Innovating for a Sustainable and Resilient Water Future: A Report from the 2014 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum. Aspen Institute.

Drought Watch and Water Conservation. (n.d.). City of Aspen.

Sackariason, C. (2020, August 26). Aspen, Pitkin County in ‘extreme drought’. The Aspen Times.

Sackett, H. (2021, February 25). Report: Estimates of future Upper Colorado River Basin water use confound previous planning. The Aspen Times.

Stein, A. (2021, February 12). With Climate Change, Colorado Ski Seasons Are Getting Shorter. Westword.

Drought: Village of Rezeshk, Afghanistan

Hannah Richardson, General Arts and Sciences, Penn State Behrend

Just outside of Herat, Afghanistan, is a small village whose entire culture and way of life relies completely on its agriculture. After four years of drought, the villagers of Rezeshk have been forced to seek refuge in the much more affluent neighboring city of Herat. In trying to survive, residents of Rezeshk have sold their livestock, suffered—and continue to suffer—from malnutrition, and have seen their village fall into near economic ruin, with many in severe debt to neighbors. In an area that is already high with tensions, with regard to the Taliban, the added stress from food scarcity and displacement from the continued drought illuminates that climate change is intertwined with human rights.

Rezeshk has been hit so hard during this drought because of its reliance on agriculture. Crops have died. Animals are ill and underfed, making things like milk production damn near impossible to sustain. With the fields gone dry, the price of seed and animal feed has gone up as well, another added burden to the villagers. The drought is only expected to worsen. In response, many have turned to neighbors, family, or friends, to get some type of loan. This money usually goes toward moving to refugee camps and medical aid in their clinics.

In an attempt to provide some kind of relief, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has sent drought-resistant seeds in addition to volunteers to help plan and work the land to get the best yield, and monetary assistance, of course. Taking similar steps is the United Nations World Food Programme, providing $34.6m in relief.

The future looks uncertain, however. Many who are displaced from the severe drought, especially those from Rezeshk, will not be able to return to their homes—there is nothing left to go back to, and what little money they had has been spent getting to shelter—it is simply too costly. Another looming threat is that when the rains do come, they will cause severe mudslides, because what vegetation and topsoil were there pre-drought has been removed. It seems incredibly unfair that a community that barely contributes to the global climate crisis is suffering the most because of it.


Afghan Drought ‘Displacing More People than Taliban Conflict’. (2018, October 17 2018). BBC News.

Communities Affected by Drought in Afghanistan Are Struggling with Hunger Afghanistan. (2019, March 27). ReliefWeb.

Ratcliffe, R. (2019, March 25). ‘The Country Could Fall Apart’: Drought and Despair in Afghanistan. The Guardian.

Drought in El Rosario, Honduras

Drew Ronk

El Rosario, Honduras is a rural farming village that has been drastically impacted by drought in recent years. This drought is considered a direct consequence of climate change, as recent anomalies in weather patterns have prevented the annual August rain that this community’s crops rely on. Their main crops, corn and beans, have depleted and have not produced due to this drought—leaving many of the people there who depend on this food panicked. The recent rise in temperature and lack of water is exacerbated by deforestation, as the pine trees that once surrounded the village and provided much needed shade fell victim to logging and an infestation of bark-eating beetles.

This community is especially vulnerable due to its location and relatively homogenous means of production. Many of the urban centers in Honduras are controlled by gangs or corrupt government authorities, making it an unsafe option to search for work in. Leaving Honduras to work in other countries also adds a level of uncertainty and risk, resulting in hesitation among those in El Rosario who would even be able to afford to migrate. As the village’s land is currently cultivated for specific crops, replacing those or cultivating new land for crops that are better suited for the recent droughts could be too expensive an undertaking for the farmers there. The output from the crops is the main source of food and income for this community, making El Rosario very vulnerable if this trend of crop failure continues.

The most prominent forecasted impact on this community is continued crop failure. If conditions remain as they were in 2019 when drought decimated this community’s crop supply, it is unlikely that the village will be able to recover. Many of the people in the village will be out of work, as they will no longer be able to produce the crops that provide for them.

There are solutions to this problem, but they require significant assistance from government entities or other large groups. A solution to this problem would be for the Honduran government or another group to provide financial aid to El Rosario, allowing them to purchase and plant trees in the surrounding areas, as well as crops that are better suited for arid climates. The planting of trees will hopefully offset some of the impact that rising temperatures are having, but what these people need most is rain. If this rain does not come, migration is inevitable. These people will likely need assistance to migrate to a place that is safe, which can be a tall order for the Honduran government and external organizations that support climate migrants.


Gistin, G. (2019, June 8). Ravaged by Drought, a Honduran Village Faces a Choice: Pray for Rain or Migrate. Inside Climate News.

Drought in Chiquimula, Guatemala

Caitlin Ruiz Jimenez, Labor and Employment Relations, College of Liberal Arts

In the town of Chiquimula, Guatemala, residents have only recently seen relief from an El Niño-related drought that lasted over four years—the worst canícula the country has experienced in 40 years. This drought drastically affected the food security of residents and bankrupted small farmers. Thousands of Guatemalans were forced to migrate and seek asylum in other countries, though the outdated 1951 Refugee Convention (also known as the Geneva Convention) prevented them from successfully seeking asylum. Although the negative effects of climate change are being studied and experienced worldwide, international law has not yet been updated sufficiently enough to aid those adversely affected by it.

Chiquimula is part of the Central American Dry Corridor, making it especially vulnerable to droughts. This area experiences drastically variable rainfall, thereby causing growing seasons to be unpredictable. Climate change has caused decreased rainfall in this once lush area, and continually hotter annual temperatures compound the suffering of Chiquimula residents. Chiquimula’s inhabitants are no strangers to hunger, since these droughts create impossible conditions for subsistence farmers to grow in. Children and adults alike suffer from malnutrition and a total lack of food security; in fact, Guatemala has one of the highest rates of malnourished children in the world. Families are often forced to eat only once a day, or even every other day. Many residents of Chiquimula survive on corn tortillas and meal replacement drinks provided via government programs. Jobs are also becoming increasingly more scarce as farmers struggle to make ends meet and can no longer afford to pay workers.

In the future, the effects of global warming and climate change will only increase suffering in Guatemala, particularly in Chiquimula. Droughts are expected to increase both in frequency and severity, and inhabitants of the Dry Corridor will not survive without both local government and international assistance. Education must be provided to farmers regarding climate forecasts and how to plan ahead for planting and harvesting crops based on forecasts. International aid will be needed to combat malnutrition, provide medical care, and bring financial assistance to vulnerable communities.


Abbott, J. (2019, May 13). ‘No other option’: Climate change driving many to flee Guatemala. Climate News | Al Jazeera. ving-many-to-flee-guatemala

Broadbent, C. (2020, July 7). CLIMATE INEQUALITY: MISSING RAINFALL. Planet Earth Games.

Lakhani, N. (2020, October 15). “People are dying”: how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US. The Guardian. crisis-migration-drought-famine

Rose, A. (2019). Combating drought in the Dry Corridor of Guatemala. CCAFS: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

Steffens, G. (2021, February 10). Changing climate forces desperate Guatemalans to migrate. National Geographic. -force-guatemalans-migrate-to-us

Desertification in Tessaoua

Ethan Ruschman, Political Science BS, College of Liberal Arts

Tessaoua is currently facing a crisis. Located on the southern end of the African country Niger, it faces a wall of sand called the Sahara Desert. And that desert is growing. Since 1920, the Sahara Desert has grown by about 10 percent. This expansion is mostly southward into already impoverished communities that rely on local farming to survive. This growth is causing a food shortage not just in Tessaoua, but in all of middle Africa. This community in particular is especially threatened for a few reasons. The first is just how close to the Sahara Desert they currently are. The vast majority of Niger is composed of a portion of the Sahara with only a tiny sliver being arable, with Tessaoua on that tiny sliver. Additionally, Niger is one of the poor countries in the region, which means that Tessaoua is unlikely to receive any federal support. If someone doesn’t do something, Tessaoua and countless other communities will be swallowed up by the ever-encroaching desert. All of the citizens that currently live in Tessaoua have a choice: starve or leave. But how do you stop the third largest desert in the world? There is a project called the Great Green Wall. This plan is a joint project of eleven countries in the Sahel-Sahara region. Their plan is to create a wall of greenery 15 kilometers wide and 7,775 kilometers long along the southern border of the Sahara. With this buffer zone of greenery, it will be much harder for the Sahara to erode the land enough to continue growing further south. In addition to the actual wall, there is a lot of work being put into regenerating the land so that it can grow crops better than ever before. Lastly, there is talk about having the southern border of the wall (the side that people can access) consist of food giving trees that can be harvested for more food. This project has a budget of two billion dollars and is already underway. This will be one of the largest projects humanity has ever attempted and its success will determine the lives of the millions that live in that area and the billions that will in the coming decades.


Means, T. (2021, April 23). What Is Desertification, and Where Is It Happening? Treehugger.

Schleeter, R. (2013, November 4). The Great Green Wall. National Geographic.

Weisberger, M. (2018, March 29). The Sahara Desert Is Growing. Here’s What That Means. Live Science.

The Impact of Drought on Chester, Utah

Katriel Simpson, Computer Engineering, College of Engineering

The West has been facing serious drought for over a decade. However, since 2018, drought conditions have been increasing at an alarming rate. One community in particular has been struck severely by these conditions: Chester, Utah, located in Sanpete County. In July of 2018, land in the area had become extremely infertile and irrigation ponds had turned to dust. Many native farmers have started to strip away all of their crops, trying to make any profit they can, including a big farming family: The Sunderland’s. This community is exceedingly vulnerable because most local farming businesses are failing and scraping together anything they can in order to make a living due to a paucity of water in the smaller reservoirs that provide the irrigation water for the season. This is directly linked to the decreased amount of snowfall received in the past winter. There are still the larger reservoirs that contain a decent amount of water; however, the local farmers only have access to a minimal amount of it, maybe enough to irrigate about 25 percent of their land (Penrod, 2018). These farms provide the locals with produce and other materials, and depending on the size of the farm, also distribute to other parts of the country. So, due to the severity of drought, a decrease in farming around the area can lead to a shortage of produce, a decline in the town’s infrastructure and a possible major recession in the local area. The Agriculture Sustainability Task Force has realized the severity of this issue and has come out with possible solutions for handling the drought. These include: preserving farmland, supporting local farming businesses as well as the livestock industry for grazing purposes and grassland maintenance, promoting agricultural conservation, improving distribution capacity, and developing a new system for the irrigation infrastructure and a system for residential needs (Agriculture Sustainability Task Force, 2012). With this, there is hope to restore the local farming society in Chester, Utah before it becomes too late.


Agriculture Sustainability Task Force. (2012). Agriculture Sustainability in Utah. PDF.

Penrod, E. (2018, August 13). Drought Forces Hard Choices for Farmers and Ranchers in the Southwest. The New Humanitarian.

Drought in Taiwan

Angel C. Sowatskey 

Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we were quarantined, I decided to bury my head in the sand by bingeing a show whose title before then had seemed too frivolous for me to ever consider, “90 Day Fiancé”. It enlightened me to the rest of the world in a way I never expected, and because I saw how other people lived, I no longer felt sorry for myself just because I had to take an extra day off work and go out of my way for toilet paper. I watched in amazement as people who had access to technology such as smartphones and the internet still slept in the dirt with rats and struggled to find clean water. This in part is what motivated me to go back to school to see what I could do about water shortages, if only to educate myself and others. Currently one such place with access to the best technology in the world is Taiwan, and they are facing the worst drought they have seen in 50 years, despite being a place known for having some of the most rainfall on the planet. Of the areas most impacted, and perhaps home to the most controversial water dispute in all of Taiwan is the city of Hsinchu.

Hsinchu has the highest income level in Taiwan, but the drought has made the disparity in wealth blatantly obvious. Hsinchu Science Park is basically the Silicon Valley of Taiwan, the park is home to over 400 tech companies, several prestigious universities and even their National Space Organization. The local farmers of Hsinchu argue that cutting off water supply to their irrigation systems is being loosely justified by stating that the importance of the local agriculture is less than that of the software businesses. One of the companies responsible is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which provides the world’s top innovators with chips, meanwhile they and the rest of the Science Park use the majority of the water from local reservoirs. In 2019, they used over 60 million tons of water, though they have since implemented recycling measures to reduce use going forward. The overall value and contribution of these opposing professions is being taken into question, which is something many of us have had to do since the pandemic, but there may also be pressure for Hsinchu to do whatever it takes to continue to supply the necessary competitive technology if they want to present themselves as valuable enough to ward off a possible Chinese invasion.

Currently, water is being rationed as a desperate attempt to preserve what is left, pressure has been reduced and supply is completely cut two days out of the week. A typhoon or three would have been welcomed during Hsinchu’s rainy season, but not even one made landfall, which is something that has not occurred in over half a century. While simultaneously restricting water to the agricultural industry the TSMC has taken to stockpiling water, having truckloads brought in, and even setting up a pipeline to siphon in water from the northern part of the country. Hsinchu seems to be covering all of its bases and then some as they’ve begun the typical route of drilling for new wells, but they are also home to a desalination plant which is intelligent and necessary for inevitable future water shortages. One of the atypical solutions has been for the local government to have their air force fire chemicals into the atmosphere to manipulate weather patterns and cloud seeding, which is too expensive to continue. Finally, where all else fails, the people of Hsinchu have turned to their temple to offer prayers and blessings meant to invoke the sea goddess to bring them rain while they wait patiently to see if this drought is in fact once in a lifetime or a sign of the new norm.


Wang, A. (2021, March 18). Sea goddess, air force C-130s called upon to fight Taiwan drought. Reuters. called-upon-to-fight-taiwan-drought-idUSKBN2BB082

Hioe, B. (2021, March 14). Effects of drought on semiconductor industry raise questions about resource distribution in society. New Bloom. semiconductor-effect/

Chien, A., Chang, & Zhong, R. (2021, April 8). Drought in Taiwan pits chip makers against farmers. New York Times. semiconductors.html

Drought in Storm Lake, Iowa 

Ian Brehm, Business, Penn State World Campus

The town of Storm Lake, population 10,558, is the county seat of Buena Vista in northwestern Iowa. Storm Lake is surrounded by agricultural lands; 96 percent of Buena Vista County is active farmland (National Agricultural Statistics Service [NASS], 2017). Eighty-eight percent of that land is dedicated to only two crops: corn (48 percent) and soybeans (40 percent). Buena Vista is also ranked seventh in the state for livestock and poultry production, another important Iowa product.

The threat to Storm Lake, as with all of Buena Vista County, is drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor map, published weekly by a consortium of government and research institutions, shows drought severity on a six-point scale: no drought, abnormally dry (D0), moderate drought (D1), severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3), and exceptional drought (D4) (Fuchs, 2021). According to the most recent data, Buena Vista County is experiencing severe drought.

Climate change has meant that although Iowa is getting more rain annually, the rain comes in heavy spring storms, leading to more frequent flooding, and the summer droughts are more severe due to both higher evaporation (due to global warming) and lower rainfall. Extremes in precipitation and temperature, not averages, have a greater effect on crops and livestock (National Service Center for Environmental Publications, 2016).

However, the frequency of droughts – an exposure indicator – is only one factor determining vulnerability to drought. When exposure data is combined with data on sensitivity (characteristics that influence the impacts of drought) and adaptive capacity (characteristics that influence the ability to adjust to and rebound from drought) Iowa ranks in the top three most vulnerable states, along with Montana and Oklahoma (Engström et al., 2020). Iowa shows vulnerability in seven of eleven categories, especially agriculture and irrigation. A high percentage of agriculture land heightens drought sensitivity; 88 percent of land in Buena Vista County is dedicated to agriculture, 93 percent statewide (NASS, 2017; Crop and Land Use, 2015). A lack of irrigation infrastructure hampers drought adaptability; only two percent of farmland in Iowa is prepared for irrigation, and in Buena Vista County, the number is so low it has been withheld to protect privacy (Land in Farms…, 2017; NASS, 2017). These two indicators, combined with the lack of renewable water resources, suggest that Iowa and Storm Lake, especially, are extremely sensitive to drought.

Severe drought has historically impacted Storm Lake and surrounding areas in several ways: it stresses even drought-tolerant corn varieties; it causes soybean plants to abort (drop) their pods; it causes extremely low crop yields; it stresses animals; it leads to low pond and surface-water levels; causes grasses to dry and brown; and it greatly magnifies the risk for fires. Together, the impacts of this drought are the most severe for Storm Lake since 1999 (Cullen, 2021). Furthermore, the duration and severity of droughts are expected to increase.

As a short-term solution to the drought, Storm Lake officials are planning to impose mandatory measures to conserve water and protect the town’s water infrastructure. This would be the earliest the town has enacted such protections for over 10 years. Neighboring towns are considering additional measures such as prohibiting fireworks to reduce fire risk (Konz, 2021).

True long-term solutions require building resilience to withstand what is inevitable and fighting what can be fought. To build resiliency, Storm Lake must consider the vulnerabilities identified by Engström et al. Building irrigation infrastructure into farm requirements could help alleviate harms to crops. This requires water, and officials are considering drilling more wells to supplement the town’s current aquifer and alluvial well supplies, but there is question as to the effectiveness of this strategy (Cullen, 2021). Planting drought-resistant crops offers an additional adaptation strategy. To reduce the effects of climate change, Storm Lake must both support state and federal efforts aimed at battling climate change and encourage residents to adopt climate conscious choices in their daily lives, including in agriculture.


Crop and Land Use: Statewide Data. (2015). Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Cullen, T. (2021, June 11). Drought gets real as wells run dry. The Storm Lake Times.

Engström, J., Jafarzadegan, K., & Moradkhani, H. (2020). Drought Vulnerability in the United States: An Integrated Assessment. Water, 12(7), 2033.

Fuchs, B. (2021, June 8). Iowa. U.S. Drought Monitor. StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?IA

Konz, N. (2021, June 11). Lake City Council discusses possibility of prohibiting fireworks around holiday due to dry conditions. CBC. council-discusses-possibility-of-prohibiting-fireworks-around-holiday-due-to-dry conditions/

Land in Farms, Harvested Cropland, and Irrigated Land by Size of Farm: 2017 and 2012. (2017). National Agricultural Statistics Service Census of Agriculture.,_Chapter_1_State_Level/Iowa/st19 _1_0009_0010.pdf

National Agricultural Statistics Service. (2017). Buena Vista County, Iowa. Publications/AgCensus/2017/Online_Resources/County_Profiles/Iowa/cp19021.pdf

National Service Center for Environmental Publications. (2016, August). What climate change means for Iowa. United States Environmental Protection Agency. ZyPDF.cgi/P100QV94.PDF?Dockey=P100QV94.PDF

Effects of Drought on Ledoux Village, New Mexico

Chris Annear, Industrial Engineering, Penn State Behrend

For this assignment, I will be examining the effects of climate-change-related droughts on Ledoux New Mexico, an agricultural community of around fourteen hundred people that relies heavily on seasonal snowmelt and precipitation for irrigation.
For over 400 years, this community has relied on rain and snowmelt to provide running water for their irrigation canals. Since this community’s economy mostly relies on farming, a few years of mass crop failure would be devastating. In the 20th century, this community grew significantly, and their farms have become an essential pillar of the community, providing locally grown native plants used in a variety of traditional recipes important to the culture. Already, 77 percent of New Mexico is experiencing extreme drought. This dire lack of precipitation has resulted in crop yields dropping by 80-95 percent and the growing season dropping from April to October to just April to July (Romero, 2021).
With the southwestern Region of the United States expected to become drastically drier, droughts, such as the one Ledoux is currently experiencing, are supposed to become more common and last longer in duration. The most recent droughts are some of the worst the area has experienced in the past thousand years. If the current trend of the region becoming drier continues, agriculture utilizing natural water sources may become impossible. If this is the case, small farming operations such as those common in Ledoux may no longer be cost-effective, robbing the town of an important source of food and income. Without farming, the town and local culture may lose their identity and source of jobs, causing people to move away to more fertile farmland.

Some potential solutions to combat the devastating effects of these droughts lie in innovation and sustainable irrigation methods. The first of these methods is solar powered groundwater pumps, these small-scale pumps can be deployed anywhere there is groundwater and are cost-effective for local farmers (Gadeberg, 2020). The fatal flaw of groundwater pumps is that eventually, local aquifers will run dry after repeated years of low precipitation and heavy use. A better solution is to improve the efficiency of irrigation. One of the most efficient methods is drip irrigation. What drip irrigation entails is pipes running low-pressure water directly to the plant’s roots through pipes dripping water directly above the plants. This reduces the amount of soil surface that is wet and the amount of water that is lost to evaporation (Water Science School, 2015). Another solution is planting and developing more drought resistant crops. These methods could help lessen the devastating droughts, but the best solution to these farmers most likely is relocation to a less arid region.


Gadeberg, M. (2020, 18 March). Solar-Powered Irrigation Could Boost Climate Resilience for Millions. Agrilinks. USAID.

Water Science School. (2015). Irrigation: Drip or Microirrigation. USGS.

Romero, S. (2021, July 13). Drought Hits the Southwest, and New Mexico’s CANALS Run Dry. The New York Times.

Drought in Bradford County, PA

Andrew Bennett, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State University

Bradford County, PA is a rural county in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. Precipitation in this community has been an interesting story over the last couple of years. I will focus on the last two years to illustrate the vast swing and how it can negatively effect the community. The year 2020 saw one of the worst droughts this region has experienced (Hicks, 2020), and in 2021 they’ve had multiple flooding events from rain that would continue for days on end. Weather is not climate, but this zoomed in look gives us an idea of where things are heading in terms of intensity and frequency of major events, which is attributable to climate change.

This is an area that has a long history of agricultural development and these changes in precipitation create a threat to the future livelihood of these farms and farmers. A census from 2017 reported 1,449 farms in Bradford County. 60% of the land on these farms was used for growing crops (2017 Census…, 2017). Uncertainty in the precipitation that will occur in the months between spring and fall creates a challenge for farmers trying to plant, grow, and harvest crops. It is hard to plan when you don’t know whether to expect a drought or for your fields to get washed out.

People’s personal lives and properties have been negatively impacted by the results of the flooding that occurred this summer. There was extensive damage to roadways as well as homes that were flooded out (Dunphy & Smith, 2021). The county’s report from the July 12th flooding shows $2.5 million dollars worth of damage (O’Dell, 2021). There will hopefully be state aid to help recovery, but this does not address the root of the issue or safeguard against future occurrences.

These events may increase to a level that it influences the already decreasing population to accelerate an exodus for more fair-weather locales. The 2020 census recorded less than 60,000 residents in the county, the first time since 1970 that the population was that small.(Bradford County…, 2021; Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 2021). Unless serious attention is paid to addressing climate change, this area will continue to experience severe precipitation anomalies, and in the future these will be more wet, according to most of the models from our course (Bralower, 2021).

Taking proactive approaches to flood prevention are one way that people can reduce the impact these events will have on their personal lives. This would involve building in areas less prone to flooding, or raising existing structures. These are costly tasks that not everyone can afford to make happen. Flood insurance is an option for some people to recover from the financial and physical losses, but does not prevent damage and is not affordable to everyone. The real answers will be in addressing the climate change causes of these precipitation events. That is not likely to be supported by the residents of this community because of the financial interests many have in natural gas and mineral extraction in the area.


2017 Census of Agriculture County Profile. (2017). Bradford County Pennsylvania. County_Profiles/Pennsylvania/cp42015.pdf

Dunphy, J. & Smith, Z. (2021, July 13). Bradford County deals with flooding, damage after Monday night storms. PA Homepage.

Bradford County, Pennsylvania Population 2021. (2021). World Population Report.

Bralower, T. (2021). Earth 103N Module 4 – Precipitation. Penn State Canvas. https://

Hicks, M. (2020, November 18). Ten drought watches lifted — Bradford County not one of them. The Daily Review. watches-lifted-bradford-county-not-one-of-them/article_7415f5aa-4609-5646- a3dd-183e65cf948c.html#tncms-source=login

O’Dell, P. (2021, August 3). County awaiting possible state aid for July 12 floods. The Daily Review. state-aid-for-july-12-floods/article_221995fc-5b4a-5bd6-a790-010e1e156699.html

Bradford County, Pennsylvania. (2021, July 21). In Wikipedia.,_Pennsylvania

Drought in Mendocino

Ryan Crinnigan, Digital Journalism and Media, World Campus

Mendocino is a small unincorporated community in northwestern California with a population of around 850. It is a popular tourist locale near the Pacific Ocean. Northwest California has struggled through periods of extreme drought in recent years. Despite Mendocino’s low population, its status as a tourist town drives up water demand. This demand, paired with dry conditions, leaves Mendocino vulnerable to low water access.

Drought and low water access impacts day to day living in Mendocino, as well as its hospitability as a tourist attraction. Since wells have run dry, many businesses are forcing customers to use portable toilets on the streets instead of restrooms, and some inns are even charging extra money for shower usage. Law enforcement is even monitoring fire hydrants to prevent the potential of water theft (Fuller, 2021). Shipping water from outlying areas is vastly more expensive than using local water, and as a small town reliant on tourism, this method of water access may not be sustainable. Another surprising challenge is the massive growth of marijuana farming in the region. Between regulated and illegal, there are up to 10,000 growers in the region, and marijuana is a highly water-intensive crop, making conservation efforts more challenging (Wilson, 2021). Lake Mendocino levels have fallen to extreme lows, rendering it useless as a water resource.

Mendocino, and northern California in general, seem destined to face this problem indefinitely. As we have discussed in this class, future climate projections indicate that the region will face hotter and drier conditions as overall temperatures rise and atmospheric CO2 levels increase. This year marks the second consecutive La Niña year, but projections are unclear as to whether or not drought conditions will improve in northern California as a result. The 2021 summer was California’s driest since 1895, and managers at California’s Department of Water Resources predict that the impact of drought will only worsen as it continues (Wilson, 2021).

Mendocino may struggle to resolve its water access. Local and state government have issued water usage restrictions that only provide temporary relief. Reservoirs in the area are running low, and locals are considering inventive but increasingly desperate measures to bring water to the area. Suggestions have included miles of fire hoses to the nearby town of Ukiah or airdropping water into the nearby Fort Bragg reservoir via military helicopter. Some have even suggested installing machines to convert the abundant fog in the area into potable water, as some nearby towns face their own water shortages and have stopped selling to Mendocino (Fuller, 2021). Given the drier projections for the region, relying on nearby locales will become almost impossible, as they will face their own access issues. Desalination and pipelines are options, but are incredibly expensive and face their own environmental challenges; local officials do not consider a potential desalination plant in nearby Fort Bragg as a long-term solution (Wilson, 2021). Locals are installing 5,000-gallon plastic water tanks to collect any available rainwater, and may use “gray water” as an option to water gardens.


Fuller, T. (2021, November 4). Small Towns Grow Desperate for Water in California. The New York Times.

Wilson, S. (2021, October 22). In this California county, one town has no water. Another has enough to share. The Washington Post. another-has-enough-to-share/2021/10/21/a04df778-2b92-11ec-9e50-971e1983edc6_story.html.

Drought in Rosario, Argentina: Paraná River in Crisis

Rachel Crozier, Political Science, World Campus 

Rosario, Argentina, an agricultural export city near the Paraná River, is dealing with the effects of ongoing drought. This year, the Paraná River is at a 77-year low. For the last several years, Brazil and Argentina have experienced very low rainfall. According to a New York Times article, this has caused the river to drop 10.5 feet lower than its usual level (Politi, 2021). Rosario is one of the regions under a new water advisory by the Argentinian government. A July report from Reuters noted that the government has asked people to save water in order to preserve the river on which they depend (Heath, 2021).

The Paraná River is crucial to the Rosario community. First, the river provides drinking water to this community and many others. Additionally, Rosario’s economy is built on the export of soy, corn, and wheat. With the low water level, the ability to load cargo on outgoing ships has been severely impacted. The head of Maritime and Port Activities Chamber in Rosario explained that exporters have been loading 26% less cargo to prevent the ships from becoming stuck, and the percentage will likely rise. The shipping issues and costs will have a devastating effect on Rosario’s economy. Along with the economic impact, the water shortages could impact energy supplies, as the dams are providing less and less energy to the community (Politi, 2021).

The forecast for rainfall predicts that drought will continue or worsen at least until 2022 (BBC). While experts are not sure if this is a new normal, they worry that these droughts may become more frequent (Politi, 2021). If the level of the Paraná continues to drop, the community could suffer more economic loss, as well as higher energy costs and lack of drinking water. The main cause of the water shortages in the Paraná River stem from lower rainfall in parts of Brazil, partially due to La Niña but exacerbated by deforestation, according to The Wilson Center (Cimatti & Tosi, 2021). One major component to addressing the problems of drought would be preserving and reestablishing the rainforests. Conservation methods such as restrictions on households could also be employed. The other overarching solution is for the world’s nations to work together in limiting CO2 emissions to control global warming.


Cimatti, B. V. & Tosi, N. (2021, July 30). Cloud Seeding and Water Rationing in Drought-stricken Latin America. The Wilson Center.

Heath, M. (2021, July 20). Argentina Urges People to ‘save water’ with Parana River at 77-year Low. Reuters. save-water-with-parana-river-77-year-low-2021-07-20/.

Politi, D. (4, September 2021). An Economic Lifeline in South America, the Paraná River, is Shriveling. The New York Times.

South America’s drought-hit Paraná River at 77-year low. (2021, September 1). BBC.

Drought in Santiago K, Bolivia

Marabelle DeLaurentis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State University

The small village Santiago K of Bolivia, not to be confused with the capital of Chile Santiago, is located in highlands bordering Chile. The village has a deep history dating back to the 12th century when the Incas settled there and built a shrine. Decades later, the Spanish also built a church which still sits in the village indicating a time of conquest (Walker, 2017). Today, Santiago holds physical evidence of invasion and expansion illustrating the strength of the village to overcome all. However, Santiago is threatened by a drought that may be its downfall. Santiago’s inhabitants are farmers whose primary source of income is making and selling quinoa (Walker, 2017). Quinoa growing started with the Incas in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru and has been a main product in South America for 5000 years (Quinoa History…, 2015). While it is not very water intensive to grow, quinoa does need moist soil to germinate and needs 10 inches of water during its growth period (Hayes, n.d.). In normal years, scarce rainfall in the region was enough to keep harvests high. Fortunately, in 2012, demand for quinoa shot up exponentially and famers in Santiago had to expand production to meet up with high demand. In just two years from 2012 to 2014, quinoa price doubled making business soar (Average global…, 2021). However, 2015 to 2016 was an El Nino period. This brings warm and wet weather to South America, which can cause major flooding or extreme weather events especially near the coast. Unfortunately, Santiago is a village vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events. It is just enough inland that the odd weather cycle combined with increasing global temperatures stopped any rain they got. With no rain, their crops and land dried and they could not produce anything. Their one river also dried up during this drought (Walker, 2017). This is also in comparison to Peru where their production of quinoa was at an all-time high and was aided by El Nino. This is another case of climate change hitting poor, rural areas harder than other communities. The villagers of Santiago solely rely on quinoa to survive and this event left farmers and families with a difficult choice of staying or leaving to seek better opportunities. Unfortunately, 80 percent of Santiago’s inhabitants have left the village since the drought started going from 125 families to 25 (Walker, 2017). This is a long-term impact that may be facing community: environmental migration. As more villagers migrate out to places such as urban center El Alto or even out of Bolivia to Chile for work, the village has less money, less power, and less opportunities for young people to grow remain. Researchers fear the village, and many like it, will soon disappear and lose its roots. Fortunately, there are many who still want to see Santiago survive, including its residents. One solution is tourism as three hours away from Santiago is tourist center Uyuni where many go to see some of the largest salt flats in the world. Another solution is mining as Uyuni, with similar geological features to Santiago, is home to large deposits of platinum (Walker, 2017).


A river in Santiago that dried up due to the drought
Santiago location on a map


Walker, B. (2017, August 25). Climate Change Is Making This Bolivian Village a Ghost Town. Inside Climate News.

Average global price of quinoa 2010-2020. (2021, May 10). Statistica.

Hayes, B. (n.d.). Growing Quinoa: A Complete Guide on How to Plant, Grow, & Harvest Quinoa. Morning Chores.

Quinoa History and Origin. (2015, March 18). Ancient Grains.

Images source:

Drought in Claremont, California

Aran Jacobs, Weather Risk Management, Penn State University

Claremont, California has long been known for its rich history of trees, especially American Elms and Eucalyptus trees. According to the city website, Claremont is home to over 23 thousand trees. Those iconic trees are officially at risk due to drought. On a local level, Claremont gets its water from three different sources including the Sierra Nevada snowmelt and Mt. Baldy. All of these sources rely on precipitation, which has been decreasing for the past 4 decades. In 2020, the city recorded precipitation almost 3 inches below average. According to NOAA, Los Angeles County, home of Claremont, experienced its 9th driest year in the past 127 in 2020. With drought conditions seemingly not improving, officials turned to cutting residential water usage by 30 percent. While some impact was seen, Professor Char Miller does not think this was enough. As professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College in Claremont, he cites that up to 80 percent of water usage comes from agriculture. In the meantime, local universities have taken things into their own hands. Scripps College in Claremont has removed 15,000 square feet of turf and substituted it with low water grass. In addition, they have installed low-flow plumbing, which significantly decreases water usage in appliances such as toilets and sinks. Pomona College also installed low-flow plumbing, along with aerators and waterless urinals. While these efforts do help to reduce the impacts of drought and allow for water to be spread around to more people, it does not fix the root cause. The reality is that precipitation is forecasted to continue to decrease on average in the state for decades to come. With Claremont being 100% reliant on precipitation for its water source, change is going to have to come. Drought is not only costing the residents of the city of Claremont by having to cut down water, though. With drought comes a heightened risk of fires, especially in a state already fire-prone like California. As a result, Claremont saw tens of thousands of acres burned in 2020. With drought and subsequent fires, the city of Claremont is at heightened risk due to climate change. While the community has been taking steps to alleviate the impacts, the root cause still remains, and is only on track to get worse for years to come.


Our Historic and Specimen Trees. (2022). City of Claremont.

Afshar, K. & Swift, S. (2021, September 16). ‘Drought is the norm:’ California’s water crisis becomes perpetual. The Student Life.

Editor. (2020, September 2). Sept. 1 Claremont Fire: UPDATED: EVACUEES return home; aircraft helped the western edge. Plumas News.

Drought in the City of Chennai, India

Natasha S. Katoch, Psychology and Life Sciences, Earth and Sustainability Minor, Penn State University

For my first entry, I am choosing to discuss the case of Chennai, a city in the South of India. As an Indian, I have often heard that Chennai’s water crisis was induced by both drought and flood. Year after year, the news would either depict Chennai as a dehydrated city fighting for every drop of water, or, as a city drowning underwater, and in both cases, unable to keep up with the sporadic rainfall pattern. In terms of the drought that has parched up the city’s four major reservoirs (Sengupta, 2014), the threats that are posed to the community include: lack of a regular and inexpensive source of water, drying up of local lakes (such as the Velachery), and depletion of the groundwater (Sengupta, 2014). Generally, these threats can be attributed to the two-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature since the 50s, and the complications of overpopulation, both of these which will only get worse with climate change.

Chennai is a densely populated city that houses people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. For those who can afford it, water is mainly available from desalination plants. The vulnerable section of the community includes those who must budget their water consumption —
ranging from skipping regular showers, drilling wells, lining up for hours to access public taps, to even collecting drip water from air-conditioners (Sengupta, 2014). Hence, it is fair to conclude that the absence of a regular water supply makes the community vulnerable.

The locals believe that one of the many forecasted impacts of the drought on the community would be the eventual abandonment of the city, that is, abandonment of childhood homes and settlements (Sengupta, 2014). This, the locals reason, would be inevitable, as no establishment can function without a regular supply of water. Furthermore, as the lakebeds are shrinking (as in the case of lake Velachery), those in the community who are dependent on the lakebeds for farming and cropping will have to find other resources (Sengupta, 2014).

Solutions to the threats include, for starters, a better rainwater harvesting system. Given the erratic precipitation, Chennai should invest in better rainwater harvesting in all possible areas. Buildings and landscapes should be constructed with rainwater harvesting in mind. Next, regulating and preserving natural resources such as groundwater from bore wells should be encouraged at municipal level.


Sengupta, S. (2019, July 11). Life in a city without water: Anxious, exhausting and sweaty. The New York Times.

Drought in Harper County, Oklahoma

Jenny MacDougall-Jeffery, Digital Multimedia Design, World Campus

I live in Utah and concern for drought in our future seems to be on everyone’s mind, so I originally intended to discuss the impact of climate change and the effects of drought on a community here in Utah. But after doing some research, I found that my focus is better served on Harper County, Oklahoma. Harper County consists of seven towns and a total population of 5,594, it is also considered high risk and the most vulnerable to drought (Harper County…, n.d.). Drought is a slow accumulating natural disaster; it can cause significant damage, loss and irreparable damage to a region if proper measures aren’t taken. In the case of Harper County, it is most at risk due to extensive agricultural activities, cattle ranching, and, most critically, an outdated drought plan coupled with limited irrigation (Oklahoma, n.d.). It should be noted that the Great Plains, which includes the state of Oklahoma, has experienced severe drought in the past, in the 1950s and the 1980s. However, in modern times, drought appears to have a steady effect on community members of Harper County. In fact, August 2021 was the driest August over the past 127 years, and climate change will only worsen this (Harper County…, n.d.).

One of the major areas of impact forecasted for Harper County is lack of agricultural water resources. Agribusiness relies on precipitation and soil retention of that moisture, and with a good irrigation system or aquifer groundwater, drought may be less of a concern. However, aquifers can still be at risk, for example the Ogallala in the Panhandle (West of Harper County) has declined 20 feet to date (Khand et al., 2018). But for Harper County, they rely on surface water for irrigation. During a drought, water availability is scarce and depletes quickly, causing serious concerns for the sustainability of agriculture in Harper County. Cattle will have limited water sources and feed, grasses will become dormant and hay will be nonexistent. Unfortunately, the solution for Harper County does not exactly have an easy answer. One solution could be to proactively invest in irrigation and search for additional groundwater or wells, but that is costly and not guaranteed. Another solution could be drip irrigation, so not a drop is wasted of new incoming water, but this of course would depend on reliable levels of surface water or groundwater.


Oklahoma(n.d.).U.S. Drought Monitor. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from

Harper County CONDITIONS. (n.d.) Retrieved September 29, 2021, from

Khand, K., Taghvaeian, S., & Ajaz, A. (2018, February 1). Drought and its impact on agricultural water resources in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University.

Drought and the Napa Valley Wine Industry

David Marcial, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, Penn State University

Wine production is an inherently precise process in which slight alterations in grape quality can noticeably affect the taste of the subsequent wine produced (Asimov, 2019). Therefore, increased climate variability, often in the form of excessive heat and drought, has caused and will continue to cause modifications in the wine industry, particularly that of California’s Napa Valley.

The effect of the current prolonged drought on the Napa Valley vineyards is multi layered. Grapevines have run dry by overexposure to the sun, abnormally high temperatures, and a lack of water, both in the soil and in irrigation reservoirs. Additionally, the dry conditions have favored wildfire development, which has directly scorched vineyards in regions once thought to be safe. Even more concerning is the fact that smoke can enter the skin of grapes, meaning that distant wildfires have impacted the quality of unsuspecting vineyards. Some farmers have become so desperate that they now coat grapevines with sunscreen during heat waves and import trucks of treated wastewater as a substitute for natural irrigation (Flavelle, 2021). Additionally, these heat and drought events are only expected to increase with climate change.

The economics of the wine industry are just as delicate as the production of the wine itself. For example, in 2019, vineyards in the Napa Valley made over $800 million in revenue from red grapes, while in 2020, a year marked by especially bad drought and wildfire conditions, revenue plummeted to less than $400 million. To make matters worse, insurance companies have begun pulling out of the Napa Valley. Those companies that remain have inflated insurance costs (Flavelle, 2021), realizing the high probability for more drought-related damage to the wine industry in the future.

Many solutions exist to keep the wine industry alive, but each comes with its own risk and potential advantages and disadvantages. For one, the geographic range of wine production has expanded poleward with a warming climate, and wine is being grown in places once thought unimaginable, such as England, northern Germany, and Patagonia. Such a poleward expansion, however, does not help farmers whose lives are rooted in the Napa Valley. Another thought is to re-orient crops to enhance shading during the brightest part of the day (Asimov, 2019). Other solutions include genetic modifications to create more heat and drought resistant grapes (University of Reading, n.d.) and experimentation with new grape varieties. In Napa, for instance, some farmers have realized that a replacement may be needed for cabernet sauvignon, one of the most famous wines of the region (Asimov, 2019). If done successfully, profits from new types of grape can continue well into the future. The risk, though, is that new varieties will taste too different from the original cabernet, drawing unwanted attention from a highly-critical consumer base and staining the Napa Valley’s rich history and reputation.


Asimov, E. (2019, October 14). How climate change impacts wine. The New York Times. wine.html

Flavelle, C. (2021, July 18). Scorched, parched, and now uninsurable: Climate change hits wine country. The New York Times. heat-hot-weather.html

University of Reading. (n.d.) Wine production: How to adapt to climate change. Future Learn.

Las Vegas and Drought

Joseph McManus, Political Science, Penn State University

The city of Las Vegas is a marvel of engineering. It sits in the scorching Mojave desert and is fed by Lake Mead, which is filled by the Colorado River. Drought is a very real threat to the community. Vegas experienced a record 240 days without rainfall last year, which was only broken up by a paltry 0.04 inches of rain (Ford, 2020). This summer, the water level in Lake Mead fell to the lowest on record, an ominous sign for the future.

Climate change will make droughts in Las Vegas longer and more severe. It shares an ever shrinking water supply with other communities across seven states, in an agreement governed by the Colorado River Compact (Colorado River…, 2021). Due to recent low water levels in Lake Mead, Las Vegas only received 279,000 acre feet of water last year instead of their usual amount of 300,000 acre feet.

Compounding the matter, Las Vegas is also a rapidly growing community. It was the second fastest growing city in the entire United States in 2020 (News 3 Staff, 2020), and is expected to reach a population of 3.4 million by 2060, nearly a 42% increase from current levels (Study Las…, 2021). The Colorado River compact, ratified in 1944, apportioned water rights by population, so Las Vegas suffers in comparison to its neighbors in terms of the volume of water provisioned to it (Milman, 2021). This will necessitate a vigilant focus on water conservation.

One major impact of drought is its effect on the power generating capacity of the Hoover Dam. As water levels in Lake Mead decrease, so does the dam’s energy capacity, by about six megawatts per foot of water (Canon, 2021). Las Vegas demands an enormous energy budget due to its entertainment industry, and this should make rates more expensive in the future. Many other changes in the community will take the form of extreme conservation methods.

The most high-profile change involves a law to ban “useless grass,” defined as the purely decorative grass found in medians and business parks (Drought and…, n.d.; Pitzer, 2021). The city also incentivized homeowners to remove lawns and replace them with more desert-appropriate landscaping, paying $3 per square foot replaced. Strict fines are being levied for water waste, and enforcement must be rigorous. But perhaps more significantly, cultural changes are necessary. Those who are resistant to regulations for water must be convinced or coerced to follow them faithfully. The effects of climate change becoming more visible throughout the 21st century may provide a stimulus for these holdouts to act in a more community-conscious manner.


Ford, A. (2020, December 17). Las Vegas ends record dry streak at 240 days. Las Vegas Review Journal.

Colorado River Compact Agreement. (2021, August 26). Las Vegas

News 3 Staff. (2020, December 22). Las Vegas ranked 2nd fastest growing city in 2020, study says. News 3.

Study: Las Vegas area to reach 3.4 million residents by 2060. (2021, July 22). AP News.

Milman, O. (2021, July 9). ‘We live in a desert. We have to act like it’: Las Vegas faces reality of drought. The Guardian.

Canon, G. (2021, June 10). Lake Mead: largest US reservoir falls to historic low amid devastating drought. The Guardian.

Drought and conservation measures. (n.d.). Las Vegas Valley Water District.

Pitzer, G. (2021, June 25). AS CLIMATE CHANGE TURNS UP THE HEAT IN LAS VEGAS, WATER MANAGERS TRY TO WRING NEW SAVINGS TO STRETCH SUPPLY. Western Education Foundation. managers-try-wring-new-savings-stretch

Lake Mead Water Shortage. (2022, March 23). Las Vegas

Morton, M. C. (2021, May 28). Is Green Las Vegas Gone Forever? Eos.

Master Plan (n.d.). Las Vegas

Cape Town, South Africa – Drought

Michael Taradash, Supply Chain and Information Systems, Penn State University

Cape Town is the beautiful capital of South Africa and is home to almost 5 million people. However, looking beyond the picturesque landscape of South Africa’s capital, we can see a city struggling with drought and all of its effects. Cape Town is situated in a region that is vulnerable to drought and heat waves (The Conversation, 2020). Cape Town is at risk of increasing temperatures, rainfall changes, and heat waves as global warming continues. Back in 2018, Cape Town faced a water shortage due to a 3 year rainfall deficit brought on by climate change and the El Niño weather pattern. El Niño causes below average rainfall, increased temperatures, and dryer air in South Africa as a result of higher sea temperatures. (Grobler, 2018). This dryer climate has devastating effects on the population of South Africa as well as the ecosystem. The threat to Cape Town is increased likelihood of future droughts as a result of global warming. Cape Town is vulnerable because they already have had droughts and will have more in the future. The El Niño event is becoming much more likely due to the increased amount of heat in the ocean from global warming. Stronger and more frequent El Niños will have a devastating effect on Cape Town as they will become victim to more and more drought. The forecasted impacts on the community include decreased biodiversity. The likelihood of droughts similar to the Day Zero water crisis from 2018 are projected to increase up to 80% by 2100 (Odoulami et al., 2020). This will have devastating effects on the community and could potentially make Cape Town the first dry city if proper measures aren’t taken. There are solutions being proposed to create water supply such as more hand pumps, water conservation efforts, recycling rainwater, and even creating desalination plants, but these are only short-term solutions. The real issue is global warming and El Nino’s effects on Cape Town. If nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions worldwide, Cape Town will experience terrible drought in the future.


Grobler, R. (2018, November 16). El Nino to Bring Less Rain and More Heat for SA: 5 Things You Need to Know. News24.

The Conversation. (2020, November 11). How Cape Town’s Climate Strategy Falls Short. US News.

Odoulami, R. C., Trisos, C., & New, M. (2020, December 8). Dimming the Sun Could Reduce
Future Drought Risk in Cape Town – but There’s a Catch. The Conversation.

Drought: Climate Change in Mendocino, California

Sierra Chromiak, Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State Lehigh Valley

California faces severe drought events, specifically in the community of Mendocino, California. Mendocino’s warm climate and lack of rainfall predispose it to drought, and with the increasing temperatures, drought is becoming more severe in this area. In the  years of 2020-2021, California has seen the driest months of the century (Karlamangla, 2021).  Mendocino is feeling the effects, to the point that water is becoming unaffordable.

Water in Mendocino has become increasingly scarce over the past two years. The  community is being affected by this drought in a variety of ways. For example, some local restaurants have had to close their bathrooms to the public due to lack of water supply. Hotels  have to pay extreme prices for the water their guests use, as a five-minute shower costs the hotel owners five dollars, which is adding strain to the hotel business. Fire companies have even had to protect their fire hydrants from water thefts (Fuller, 2021). All of these affects are ultimately because of climate change caused by human activity, which have led to warming and drought.

This drought situation is not even the worst it will get in Mendocino. It is projected that over the next twenty-five years, California’s widespread drought severity will triple (America’s Preparedness…, n.d.). This will cause the water supply in Mendocino to dwindle even further. Large, wealthy cities in California may have resources that can suffice in an extreme drought, such as the one that is  projected. However, smaller, less wealthy communities such as Mendocino are already running  out of water resources (Fuller, 2021).

Drought in Mendocino desperately calls for a solution. The best solution would be to slow climate change through reduction of human-induced activities that contribute to it, such as the burning of fossil fuels. This would slow the warming of the planet, which would decrease the amount of the humidity in the air, and therefore improve this drought situation. In  the meanwhile, it is important to ensure that each community has access to water sources. In areas like Mendocino, California, it may be helpful to import and store water that could be available to the public (Fuller, 2021). It would also be helpful to explore other sources of water with new wells or implement strategies such as deslination. Overall, it would be ideal to slow the intensity of drought in  Mendocino and provide water sources for the public.


America’s Preparedness Report Card 2015: California. (n.d.). States At Risk. (Accessed 8 February 2022).

Fuller, T. (2021, August 14). Small Towns Grow Desperate for Water in California. The New York Times.

Karlamangla, S. (2021, October 21). How did California’s Drought Get So Bad? The New York Times.,into%20a%20full%2Dblown%20crisis.

Destruction, Despondence, and Drought, Al-Raqqa, Syria

Ava Drum, Industrial Engineering, Penn State University Class of 2022

The drought caused by human-induced climate change was one of the factors that lead to the Syrian Civil War (Holleis, 2021). From 2006 to 2009, Syria, particularly northeastern Syria, experienced a major drought, and it was the country’s driest 3-year period in their recorded history (Selby, 2020). The city of Al-Raqqa saw an average decrease in rainfall of 36% from the normal rainfall, the highest decrease in all major Syrian cities (Selby et al., 2017). At this time, the residents were experiencing reduced agricultural production, poverty, and high fuel prices (Syria Drought…, 2010). Nutrition-related diseases were also on the rise for these three years, and Al-Raqqa saw a 42% rate of anemia in children the ages of 6 to 12 months (Syria Drought…, 2010). These poor conditions led to migration of people out of northeastern Syria, and among the cities of Al-Raqqa, Dayr az Zawr, and Aleppo, 30,000 families left (Syria Drought…, 2010), with a possible total of 1.5 million people total in northeast Syria leaving their homes (Kelley et al.,2015). Years later, in 2011, civil war broke out, one of the reasons being that the people were physically and mentally drained, and therefore susceptible to further conflict (Stier, 2017).

Today, the drought is even worse, and after 10 years of conflict, much of Al-Raqqa is destroyed (Wight, 2021). It is estimated that between 270,000 to 300,000 people live in the city, with 36% of the city and 80% of the schools destroyed (Wight, 2021). The drought has led to a lack of access to clean water in Al-Raqqa, and it has seen an increase in water-borne diseases (Wight, 2021; Water crisis…, 2021). Al-Raqqa also struggles with COVID-19, in terms of keeping the residents from spreading the disease and providing the sick with clean water and food (Wight, 2021). The forecasted impacts of the community are that as the drought and higher temperatures continue, more communities in Al-Raqqa will struggle to drink clean water and eat enough food, and the percentage of families currently in this precarious situation is 80% (Wight, 2021).

Solutions to this threat are few, but increasing the adaptive capacity of the residents of Al-Raqqa is a prime focus. In a report issued in November 2021, repairs had resumed to the Alouk Water Station (a major water station that feeds Al-Raqqa), concluding the water station was working but not at full functionality (Water Crisis in Northern…, 2021). Improving the water system in Al-Raqqa is another priority because untreated sewage (70%) is entering the Euphrates River which is also a source of water for the residents (Water Crisis in Northern…, 2021). Other solutions moving forward to increase the adaptive capacity of Al Raqqa include food assistance programs, funding to repair infrastructure (including irrigation canals), and drought mitigation (including more efficient irrigation systems) (Water Crisis in Northern…, 2021).


Holleis, J. (2021, February 26). How climate change paved the way to war in Syria. DW.

Selby, J. (2020, September 29). On Blaming Climate Change for the Syrian Civil War. MERIP.

J. Selby, J., Dahi, O. S., Fröhlich, C., & M. Hulme. (2017). Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited. Political Geography, 60, 232–244. doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.05.007.

Syria Drought Response Plan 2009-2010 Mid-Term Review. (2010, February). United Nations.

Kelley, C. P., Mohtadi, S., Cane, M. A., Seager, R., & Kushnir, Y. (2015). Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 112(11), 3241–3246. doi: 10.1073/PNAS.1421533112.

Stier, S. (2017, January 6). Seeing the devastation of climate change in the ruins of Aleppo. Los Angeles Times. 20170106-story.html.

Wight, E. (2021, July 27). Four years after the battle for Al Raqqa, children are living among ruins – Save the Children. ReliefWeb.

Water crisis and drought threaten more than 12 million in Syria and Iraq. (2021, August 23). ReliefWeb. drought-threaten-more-12-million-syria-and-iraq.

Water Crisis in Northern and Northeast Syria – Immediate Response Funding Requirements. (2021, September 9). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.*rk4cca*_ga*NjU2NDcyNjIuMTY3MzkxODI1OA..*_ga_E60ZNX2F68*MTY3MzkxODI1OC4xLjEuMTY3MzkxODQ4MC41Ni4wLjA.

Drought in Navajo County Arizona

Sydney Dutton, Biology, Penn State University

Drought is becoming a more pressing issue everywhere around the world as climate change continues. However, there are some communities that are struggling with drought more than others, one of those being Navajo County in Arizona. As the population continues to increase, the demand for water also increases, causing a negative feedback loop to occur when faced with a population in a drought. Climate change also plays a role in causing droughts. With warmer temperatures becoming more common, water evaporates quicker, drying out fields of soil and vegetation, while also limiting surface water. Specifically, the Navajo County community is extremely susceptible to droughts as it is a small, spread out county, and is in one of the poorest areas in the U.S. The county is 9,960 square miles, and only 9.3 square miles of that contain water. The 2010 census found that there were 107,449 people living in the county, which means there are 10.8 people per square mile. Within the county, over 40% of homes do not have access to water infrastructure normally, and small lakes and ponds that they would get their water from are completely dried up. Another reason this community is so vulnerable to the effects of droughts is because their livelihood comes from working with and being on the land. Navajo County is the largest Native American Reservation, and traditions that involve land have always been a part of their lifestyle. Without water, the land is becoming drier by the day, and traditions cannot be maintained.

The effects of drought on this community are and will continue to be devastating. About half of the community lives without electricity and running water, and as droughts become more severe and temperatures continue to rise, the threat of illness and death from droughts becomes bigger every day. Farmers have no way to water their crops or feed their animals, so many are losing jobs and money. Plants that are dying will allow for erosion and put sediment and pollutants into the already scarce water sources, causing filtering issues leading to less availability of drinkable water. Looking at the economic effects, the drought has caused a loss of 8.2 million dollars in the cattle sector, and 0.4 million in the hay sector in this country. With no end in sight, these numbers are projected to increase.

There are a variety of solutions to reduce the impact of drought on this community. The government should continue to monitor drought status to keep the public informed. Many people in the community must drive miles to get water, so providing closer water facilities where people can fill up containers would allow for less travel and more access. Providing livestock aid to the farmers that cannot feed their animals would allow for time and energy to be allotted elsewhere. Finally, providing aid in general to the community to give water, food, electricity, and more would relieve stress and give hope.


Drought and Climate Change. (n.d.). Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Navajo County, Arizona. (2022). In Wikipedia.,_Arizona

Magill, B. (2014, May 28). The Navajo Nation’s Shifting Sands of Climate Change. Climate Central.

Navajo County. (2017). Navajo County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. s/NCHazardMitigationPlan.pdf

Drought and Subsistence Farming in Bahia, Brazil

Anton Fatula, Environmental Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University 

Brazil, home of the Amazon rainforest, holds one of the largest water reserves on the globe. Consequently, Brazil is also one of the major agriculture producers, exporting coffee, soybeans, beans, wheat, and many other common products. In western Bahai, traditional subsistence farming has long been the norm for residents of the Cerrado grasslands (or Gerais). Following Brazil’s agricultural boom in  the late 1900s, locals saw more and more irrigated crop land pop up in the region. This was great for the local economy; however, Gerais have noticed their springs and streams drying up over the past two decades, and farmers have been pitted against each other in a battle for water resources. What could possibly be responsible for turning off the spicket to such a bustling agricultural community?

One explanation is drought. Changes in Earth’s climate system have caused the major agricultural regions of Brazil to become dryer overall, and projections show no signs of this slowing down. A study published in Nature Climate Change reports that 28% of Brazil’s agricultural land has already been pushed out of optimum climatic conditions. This study also projects that, given business as usual scenarios, this will increase to 51% by 2030 and 74% by 2060 (Rattis et al. 2021). This has detrimental implications for the region’s ability to produce and, subsequently, for its economy.

The subsistence farming community is further destabilized by the introduction of industrial farming to Bahia. Big agricultural corporations commonly have more resources and more capital than local farmers, meaning they are both less vulnerable to climatic changes and more likely to have first dibs on dwindling water reserves. This largely effects subsurface aquifers like the Urucuia aquifer, which was the subject of a 2020 study that determined that 2 cubic miles of water had been used up in just 12 years (Goncalves  et al. 2020). Underground reserves like this one provide a safety net when surface water dries up, but traditional subsistence farmers are last on the list to pull from them.

To some extent, this story is a representation of a common theme in environmentally damaging industries: poor government regulation of an industry getting out of control. Like in the fishing industry, the energy industry, and many more, profitable practices outcompete ethical and sustainable practices almost every time. The situation in Bahia also invites a broader scope of climate considerations. Similar droughts will be experienced in agricultural regions across the world. This includes other major producers such as the United States and China. Unfortunately, we have no way of avoiding these effects as we are already experiencing some of them, but international adherence to things like the Paris Agreement can only help. Additionally, new research concerning ocean water desalination could provide some relief to farming communities, though this in no way solves our broader climate dilemma.


Gonçalves, R. D., Stollberg, R., Weiss, H., & Chang, H. K. (2020). Using grace to quantify the depletion of terrestrial water storage in northeastern Brazil: The Urucuia Aquifer System. Science of The Total Environment, 705, 135845.

Grossman, D. (n.d.). Water war: Is Big Agriculture killing Brazil’s traditional farms? Yale E360. running-dry

Paes, C. de F. (2020, October 7). In Brazil’s Bahia, peasant farmers and Cowboys keep the Cerrado alive. Mongabay Environmental News. cerrado-alive/

Rattis, L., Brando, P.M., Macedo, M.N. Spera, S. A., Castanho, A. D. A., Marques, E. Q., Costa, N. Q., Silverio, D. V., & Coe, M. T. (2021). Climatic limit for agriculture in Brazil. Nature Climate Change, 11, 1098–1104.

Drought in Colorado Springs

Olivia Friend, Earth Science, Penn State University

As of February 10th, 2022, Colorado Springs, a city in Colorado, is on the border between being in moderate and severe drought. These levels indicate suffering of dryland crops, increase of wildfires, a longer fire season, low surface water, decreased river flow, reduction in crops, etc. The drought in this area is affecting 100% of the residents in the surrounding county. The state of Colorado has been in-and-out of droughts since 2000. The drought occurring as of now might not be the worst it has ever been, but it can certainly get there again.

Ever since climate change has been increasing the temperatures in the southwestern part of the U.S, the amount of available water in Colorado has been decreasing constantly. The Colorado River Basin is the central water source provider for Colorado Springs. As the western area of Colorado is experiencing severe drought, it is using more of the water from the River Basin, directly impacting Colorado Springs. In eastern Colorado, livestock and field crops utilize pumped groundwater from the High Plains Aquifer. However, as rates of evaporation increase due to lower relative humidity, irrigation demands increase and the natural recharge of the aquifer takes longer. This contributes to further decreasing of accessible water sources, as well as affecting farmers financially. Additionally, as the water supply is diminishing, the frequency of wildfires increases. The county of El Paso, where Colorado Springs is located, is home to Colorado’s most destructive fires. For instance, the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire burned more than 17,000 acres of land and burned 347 homes. A year later, the Black Forest Fire burned more than 15,000 acres and ruined over 450 homes in the process. As of today, the county still hasn’t made a universal fire code, making homeowners and vulnerable areas susceptible to wildfire damage. If the drought gets worse in Colorado Springs, water temperatures will increase, water restrictions will be regulated, dust storms will become more frequent, and pasture conditions will decrease.

There are various ways we can begin to solve this issue. We can teach farmers how to conserve soil and use grazing methods. Additionally, we can use stream temperature models and increase groundwater levels to help stabilize water levels. Forest plan revisions can be used to restore ecological processes and assist with vegetation treatments.


Drought impacts in the Rocky Mountain region. (2017, September). United States Department of Agriculture. 

Colorado. (2017). 

What climate change means for Colorado. (2016, August).US EPA. change-co.pdf 

Folsom, B. (2021, July 16). Drought to the west matters to Colorado Springs Water Supply. KOAA. colorado/drought-to-the-west-matters-to-colorado-springs-water-supply

Gabbert, B., & Handy, R. M. (2019, August 25). A county in Colorado where 833 homes burned in a two year period, considers addressing wildfire risk. Wildfire Today.

Drought in Las Vegas, Nevada

Katelynn MacPherson, Psychology, Penn State World Campus

One of the most significant human characteristics is adaptability, which allows us to figure out ways to live in environments that lack easy access to some of our basic biological requirements, such as the need for water. The resourcefulness required to provide water to communities in drought conditions is one of humanities greatest achievements. However, this century’s worldwide population explosion combined with the effects of climate change highlights a glaring need for a reconsideration of how we are planning to use our planet’s dwindling water supply to support our growing population in the coming years.

Las Vegas, Nevada is a city in the western United States that has seen booming population numbers and increasing water demands since the 1970’s. When considering the numbers, the city’s tourism industry is surprisingly not the culprit in the city’s wasteful water use, instead, historically high residential water averages are to blame (Lassere, 2015). While the residential percentages have gone down in recent years, maintaining an adequate water supply for future citizens is a great dilemma. 90% of Las Vegas’s water comes from Lake Mead, which is increasingly becoming one of the most drastic current examples of western water loss. Created in 1939 during the groundbreaking construction of the Hoover Dam, the lake provides water to Arizona, California, and Mexico to meet the municipal, agricultural, industrial, and environmental demands of at least 25 million people (Edalat, 2019). Water flows to Lake Mead from the Colorado River Basin, which has experienced a loss of over 15 cubic miles of freshwater in the past decade (Holthaus, 2014).

Global warming and the rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has increased Earth’s surface temperatures, reduced soil moisture, and led to less rainfall and longer dry periods (Edalat, 2019). All of these factors contribute to drought conditions, which has devastating impacts on regional food supply and wildlife habitats. Once known as the largest man-made lake in the United States, Lake Mead’s reservoir of stored water has dropped significantly over the past decade. Lake Mead plays a critical role in sustaining much of the western United States’ access to water, including Las Vegas. Without this resource, the consequences to surrounding communities would be devastating, and the region is likely to become uninhabitable.

Models have predicted that there is a 50% chance of Lake Mead drying completely by 2047 (Eladat, 2019). In response to a decade of drought in the region, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is working to pump 140 million cubic meters of water from northeastern valleys straight to storage at Lake Mead (Jarvis, 2013). Additionally, it is believed that one of the focuses of future water management needs to center around addressing the over-use of the groundwater system. Groundwater is used to supplement the water supply when surface water is tapped during drought conditions, but the increased depletion of groundwater is projected to have significant negative impacts in the future habitability of the region (Castle, et al., 2014).

Many government institutions are working together in the hopes of a sustainable water solution for communities like Las Vegas that rely on Lake Mead. In addition to their focus on limiting overall water use, the Southern Nevada Water Authority facilitates the recycling of sewer water in treatment facilities and uses treated water for agricultural purposes (SNWA). They have established conservation rebates as incentives for residents and businesses to reduce water waste, seasonal watering restrictions, and landscaping programs that have removed water-thirsty plants from communities (SNWA). In January 2022, the federal government officially began reducing the amount of water allocated from Lake Mead to surrounding communities and established a 2050 Master Plan with the goal of reducing water use to less than 100 gal/person/day. Realistically, Las Vegas is likely to only get drier, and addressing the water needs of the community is a necessary task in assuring the future habitability of the region.


Castle, S. L., Thomas, B. F., Reager, J. T., Rodell, M., Swenson, S. C., & Famiglietti, J. S. (2014). Groundwater depletion during drought threatens future water security of the Colorado River Basin. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(16), 5904–5911.

Holthaus, E. (2014). Lake mead before and after the epic drought. Slate.

Edalat, M. & Stephen, H. (2019) Socio-economic drought assessment in Lake Mead, USA, based on a multivariate standardized water-scarcity index, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 64(5), 555-569, DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2019.1593988

Jarvis, W. T. (2013). Water scarcity; moving beyond indexes to innovative institutions. Ground Water, 51(5), 663-669.

City of Las Vegas. (2021). Lake mead water shortage.

Lasserre, F. (2015). Water in Las Vegas: Coping with scarcity, financial and cultural constraints. City, Territory and Architecture, 2(1).

SNWA. (2019). Joint Water Conservation Plan. Southern Nevada Water Authority. 2019.pdf

Drought in Cape Town, South Africa

Tim Mykulyn, General Biology, Penn State University

Drought and the issues surrounding it is yet another issue that in many places throughout the world is being exacerbated by climate change. Water shortages have plagued many parts of the world, but perhaps nowhere as dramatically as the city of Cape Town, South Africa. In 2018 the city was forced to consider what it named a “Day Zero” scenario where the water levels of the six dams that supply the city with water fell so low due to drought that municipal water supplies would be turned off.

The city was fortunately able to implement effective efforts at reducing water consumption and reduced the city’s daily water use in half to 500 million liters. The city was able to continuously push the projected date of Day Zero back until heavy winter rains in 2018 were able to raise dam levels to manageable levels.

Short term solutions that Cape Town was able to employ to stave off Day Zero included drastic measures with long lasting economic impacts. Practices such as washing cars, and filling swimming pools were prohibited entirely. Water supplies were diverted away from local agriculture and towards municipal supplies causing the loss of some 30,000 agricultural jobs. At the most extreme point of the crisis, citizens were rationed to 50 liters of water per day. Approximately 250,000 water management devices were installed on private properties in the city to monitor water usage and cut off supply once the daily limit was reached. A practice that was widely criticized for unfairly targeting poor communities within the city.

The city has experienced more favorable precipitation in recent years which has returned the reservoir to its full capacity. In other parts of South Africa however, similar drops in dam levels have led to concerns of a similar Day Zero scenario in Johannesburg. In the long term the city and the wider country of South Africa has made wider use of those same water use reduction measures. Along with this, plans to consolidate public utilities as a means of reducing water loss in transit, use of new water sources, efforts at desalination in some areas, and preventing water loss at the dams themselves have all been considered essential parts of the South African long term plans concerning water management.


Avoiding a Water Crisis: How Capetown Avoided ‘Day Zero’. (2020, Marh 6). Global Resilience Institute. capetown-avoided-day-zero/.

Alexander, C. (2019, April 12). Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ Water Crisis, One Year Later. Bloomberg. 12/looking-back-on-cape-town-s-drought-and-day-zero.

Brühl, J. & Visser, M. (2021). The Cape Town Drought: A Study of the Combined  Effectiveness of Measures Implemented to Prevent ‘Day Zero.’ Water Resources and  Economics, 34, 100177.

Harding, A. (2021, November 10). Cape Town’s Day Zero: ‘We Are Axing Trees to Save Water’. BBC  News.

Heggie, J. (2021, May 4). Day Zero: Where next? National Geographic. of-running-out-of-water.

How Cape Town Was Saved from Running out of Water. (2018, May 4). The Guardian. brink-how-cape-town-cracked-its-water-crisis.

Mlaba, K. (2020, October 9). How Cape Town Went from Water Crisis to Overflowing Dams in Just 2 Years. Global Citizen. overflowing-dams/.

Raphelson, S. (2018, January 23). Drought-Stricken Cape Town Braces for Water to Run out in April. NPR. stricken-cape-town-braces-for-water-to-run-out-in-april.

Tucker, D. T. (2020, November 9). Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ Drought a Sign of Things to Come. Stanford News. //

Drought in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii

Marley D. Turbett, Finance and Economics, Penn State University

Hawaii is known to have relatively weaker wet and dry seasons than other tropical islands, but historically, this has played out well for the state (Love Big Island, 2022). However, rainfall has significantly lessened over the past 3 decades (Less & Heavy Rain, 2022). Since 2008, the islands have been experiencing more droughts during the dry season followed by intense rainfall during the wet season. Net rainfall throughout the year over the islands is decreasing (Less & Heavy Rain, 2022). More intense weather is causing farmers to struggle during the summer and cities to struggle with flooding during the winter (Less & Heavy Rain, 2022). One specific set of farmers that are struggling are the cattle ranchers in the Waikoloa Village in the northwest portion of Hawai’i Island (Morales, 2021). The region has experienced some of the most severe droughts in the state over the past couple of years and is currently experiencing a severe drought in March (2022), the end of the wet season (Pugh & Sanchez-Lugo, 2022). Over the past two years, the region has only received six inches of rain when it typically receives a minimum of 22 inches (Morales, 2021). This drought has caused ranchers in the village to relocate their cattle to areas with more sustained pastures (Morales, 2021). The drought is especially difficult for farmers in this area because the state heavily relies on beef production, and the ultimate revenue from that production is the primary source of income for many inhabitants in the area (Morales, 2021). If current conditions pursue, the ranchers may go out of business altogether. Ranchers are currently dealing with drought conditions by moving their cattle around and by purchasing thousands of dollars of supplemental nutrients to keep their cattle alive and healthy (Morales, 2021). Healthier pastures are receiving irrigation from aquifers. However, this is only a short-term fix, and rerouting water in aquifers can only service so many endpoints. Unfortunately, the larger issue causing the extreme droughts and period of heavy rainfall coincides with the frequency of El Nino (ENSO) years (Less & Heavy Rain, 2022). The increasing frequency of El Nino years is partially due to increasing ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which is largely caused by climate change. In order to reverse current surface temperature warming trends, all humans need to reduce emissions to change the current path of warming on the planet. These cattle ranchers are a great example of how climate change for the entire globe hits specific communities harder than others.


Less & Heavy Rain. (2022). State of Hawaii Climate Change Portal.

Love Big Island. (2022, January 7). Weather on the Big Island, explained.

Pugh, B. & Sanchez-Lugo, A. (2022, March 29). Hawaii. U.S. Drought Monitor.

Morales, M. (2021, November 23). Drought conditions endanger Hawaii’s cattle industry. Knon 2.

The Apinaje People

Joshua D. Contreras, Economics, Penn State University

During the 1970’s the Apinaje people located in the Bico do Papagaio region in Brazil lived in comfort while the abundant rains would fall for three to four days at a time from the months of January through June. The rains would provide the Apinaje people with the ability to plant essential foods for their vegan diet. Their way of life within the last fifteen years has become under threat because of climate change, namely, droughts and fires that have swept through the Amazon rainforest. The problem has compounded exponentially over the past two years. In addition to the lack of rain to feed their crops, the fires that rage on the footsteps of their villages are causing the vulnerable individuals, the elderly and the young, to be poisoned as the smoke hangs in the air for two to three months.

While the Apinaje attempt to combat their new ecological landscape by planting other sustenance that have a higher survivability rate in droughts it may not be enough as the fires are adding to their plight. Companies such as the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and Prevfogo (National Center to Prevent and Combat Forest Fires) have assisted the Apinaje people (and other tribes in the region) by providing tools to report concentrations of drought that have a likelihood of a fire outbreak. Prevfogo has also been able to provide the people in the region with an additional 300 firefighters.

An indirect possibility of assisting the Apinaje people is to financially back nonprofit organizations such as Amazon watch, who campaigns for human rights and preserves the Amazon ecosystem. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature which assists in reducing the human impact on the environment. Or the Rainforest Alliance which states that they attempt to create a sustainable world through social and market forces to protect nature and forest communities.


About. Rainforest Alliance. (2022, May 9).

Gonzales, J. (2020, May 28). Green alert: How indigenous people are experiencing climate change in the Amazon. Mongabay Environmental News. climate-change-in-the-amazon/

Sims, S. (2019, August 27). The land battle behind the fires in the Amazon. The Atlantic. lands/596908/

World Wildlife Fund. (n.d.). Our values. WWF.
values#:~:text=World%20Wildlife%20Fund%2C%20Inc.,diversity%20of%20life%20on% 20Earth. (n.d.). paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

Modern Agriculture in Hanford, CA

Rosvin Recinos, Political Science – International Relations, Penn State University

In the middle of the San Joaquin Valley in California sits a small town with a population of just over 50,000 people. The local economy is driven by agriculture like the rest of the valley. Hanford is a community mainly composed of small family farms that grow pistachios, almonds, grapes, peaches, and other fruits. In late 2015 farmers started to rip out their water-intensive crops and replace them with more drought-resistant crops. The San Joaquin Valley is an agricultural powerhouse for the state of California and Hanford is a part of that equation. After years of drought that only drifted into severe drought, farmers are looking for new ways to farm while conserving the water that they are supplied from the Sierra Nevada and the system of canals that has been built to feed the demand for water in an area that sees more than 270 days of sunshine per year. The average rainfall in Hanford is only 9 inches of rain annually while the national average is 38 inches. The rain is not a reliable way of watering your farm in Hanford. As the farmers have begun to transition out of using canal irrigation and using large water sprayer systems, drip irrigation has become more common. Farmers have been limited in the amount of water they are allowed from the canal systems and the amount they can pump from the wells which have also led to other issues. In 2021 the valley is under severe drought yet again and many wells in the area have run dry. In the winter of 2021/2022, the Sierra Nevada only received about 38 percent of its annual snowpack, further making the drought a serious issue for Hanford, the valley, and the nation. Regenerative farming practices have become part of a possible solution to this problem. Many farmers have started to use cover crops to prevent soil erosion and to return nutrients to the soil. The little rain that does fall is taken but tilling the ground and allowing for groundwater absorption. As climate change continues to impact this small community some of the proposed solutions have been to create more water infrastructure to bring water from the northern part of the state where water is abundant and for farmers to use water more efficiently. Crops such as Sorghum and corn have become more common crops to reduce the effects of drought.


Inside California’s Central Valley Water crisis. (n.d.). Water Education Foundation. valley-water-crisis

Report – Food and Agriculture Organization. (n.d.). dwide.pdf

Drought in Joshua Tree, CA 

Kiersten Shreve, Psychology, Penn State World Campus

Joshua Tree, California is a small town located in the Mojave Desert. This small town is home to several species such as the native Joshua trees, tortoises, snakes and lizards, coyotes, and Bighorn sheep. This once-hidden gem has come into the public eye as a tourist attraction for the hikes within Joshua Tree National Park and the chance for people to truly embrace the desert lifestyle. Although this little town economically benefits from the business the tourists bring, the natural environment has taken a toll. California has been in a drought for quite some time. Because of this, smaller towns such as Joshua Tree are affected due to a lack of resources to combat the drought. The drought has not only affected the people, but also the natural environment which surrounds it. Recently, Joshua Tree National Park has closed one of its most popular hikes, 49 Palms, to ensure that the native wildlife, such as Bighorn sheep, have enough water to survive. The Bighorn sheep, as well as the biological area, depend on the water from the oasis spring within 49 Palms. It is one of the only sources of water within the park and without the rainfall, the ecosystem may collapse. If this does occur, the Bighorn sheep will be forced to seek water at higher elevations which may push them out of the park entirely.

In recent years, California has seen an increase in temperatures and the desert is one of the most vulnerable places for drought and wildfires. If climate change continues to have rapid effects on environments within California, the predicted number of extreme heat days (97 degrees Fahrenheit) per 10 years, is 110 days by 2090. Today, that number is between 20 and 40 and historically that number is 4. In 2019, the average high temperature in Joshua Tree, California, was 100 degrees Fahrenheit which occurred in July.

The Bighorn sheep are just one of many species within the town affected by the drought. This drought has caused temperatures to continue to rise in the Mojave Desert, making hot summers for tortoises, coyotes, birds, and jackrabbits even more difficult to survive. The town has adopted an organization called the Mojave Desert Land Trust, which works to protect the desert ecosystems. Through their work, they have set parameters within the desert that are home to endangered species and created barriers closed off to the public to ensure that the species have the best chance at survival. The MDLT has been working to preserve the land for 15 years and their reach spans beyond Joshua Tree and goes as far as Death Valley, California.


Climate Change in California: Facts, Effects, and Solutions. (2022) Energy Upgrade California, California Public Utilities Commission, and California Energy Commission.

Martinez, C. (2022, June 8). Extreme Drought Prompts Closure of Joshua Tree Trail to Ensure Water for Bighorn Sheep. Los Angeles Times. hiking-trail-to-ensure-water-access-for-bighorn-sheep.

Mojave Desert Land Trust. (2022, February 25). MDLT.

Weather Averages Joshua Tree, California. (2022). Temperature – Precipitation – Sunshine – Snowfall, US Climate Data. states/usca1645.

Drought in Hays, Kansas

Seth Heberling, Penn State University

Climate change is causing the dry, hot weather common to the western United States to move farther Eastward, reaching the Great Plains region and leaving huge parts of Kansas especially the western and southern parts of the state in a cycle of brutal droughts that continue to grow worse as climate change becomes more severe. The city of Hays, which remains the only city in the state that has no sustainable water source, suffered a water crisis in 1992 which led the community to adopt strict water conservation efforts. The city offers cash incentives to residents that install low-flow facilities, replace their lawns with drought-resistant grasses and plants that do not require irrigation, and teach children in schools about the importance of water conservation. Residents are given rain gauges to help them determine when they should not water their lawns, and some programs teach people how to replace their lawn grass with native species such as buffalo grass which are better adjusted to the changing climate of the region.
The city of Hays stands tall far above any other community in Kansas for its conservation of water, but growth has remained stifled as a result of the water problem. Two generations have grown up since the crisis in the early 1990s and have learned to live with the feeling of being less fortunate than other parts of the state and living like a community would in the middle of a desert. The leaders of the community continue to search for a permanent, sustainable source of water and have proposed the construction of a 70-mile-long pipeline designed to deliver water from three counties away that could provide access to clean water for the next 75 or so years, along with bringing potential growth and careers, but researchers warn that this solution would likely bring other problems in the future.


Condos, D. (2022, October 11). This city in Kansas conserves its water, but that still might not be enough to survive. High Plains Public Radio. still-might-not-be-enough-to-survive

Water in Rajasthan, India

Nish Barot, Penn State University

Pali in Rajasthan, India, is expected to have an extreme water crisis as summer approaches. Due to the much lower water level in the nearby Jawai dam, Climate change, which results in inconsistent rainfall patterns, increased rates of evaporation, and more recurring droughts, aggravates this problem of water scarcity even further. Water scarcity can have fatal effects on the environment and the people of Pali if it is not handled. Crop failures brought on by a prolonged water shortage might impact food security and put farmers’ livelihoods at risk. Additionally, water scarcity may lead to poor sanitation, which raises the danger of waterborne illnesses. Conflicts between communities may also result from competition for insufficient water supplies. The Pali district and the administration must adopt quick and long-term solutions to solve this problem. Water rationing and repairing distribution system leaks are all quick actions. Investing in sustainable water control techniques, such as rainwater collection, adequate irrigation systems, and wastewater treatment for reuse, is crucial for long-term solutions. In addition, it is crucial to fight climate change through mitigation and adaptation strategies, such as investing in climate-resilient infrastructure. To reduce and help mitigate the deepening of water scarcity. The Pali community can deliver water security for its citizens, lessen the environmental harm caused by the looming water crisis, and increase resilience to the effects of climate change by putting these measures into place.


TNN / Updated: Mar 22, 2023. (n.d.). Pali: Pali likely to face severe water crisis as summer approaches: Jaipur News – Times of India. The Times of India. water-crisis-as-summer-approaches/articleshow/98892696.cms?from=mdr

Droughts in Gikomero

Benita Bowden, Penn State University

While commercial agriculture refers to the large-scale growth of crops that are meant for widespread distribution, subsistence farming refers to small-scale family farmers who grow their own food. Climate change is beginning to have a huge impact on the livelihood of subsistence farmers. These types of farmers from the Gikomero sector of the Gasabo District in Rwanda are just one of the many farming communities that are experiencing hardships due to climate change. Although the planet has only warmed about one degree Celsius within the past few decades, farmers in Gikomero are struggling with abnormal droughts. Most subsistence farmers in this community rely on their crops to pull themselves out of poverty. This community is especially vulnerable because there are so many subsistence farmers who grow crops there, and many are being forced to quit farming altogether. This will result in more poverty in the Gikomero community, as well as starvation. The DeSIRA project is just one of many groups attempting to help solve this issue. They are working with rural subsistence farmers to teach them about how to use advanced agriculture techniques to help fight the impacts of climate change. Farmers are taught about many different techniques such as, how to make soil retain water better, and how to use different types of fertilizer. Many local farmers are very happy with the results of the DeSIRA project. Rutagengwa Aphrodis, a local subsistence farmer states, “I have been able to harvest over 600kg of maize compared to 200kg he used to yield before, something unusual!” (Habimana).


Chikava, Enock. “Smallholder Farming Is a Proven Path out of Poverty, but Climate Change Is Changing the Rules.” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,

HABIMANA, Jean Claude. “Small Holder Farmers Capacitated to Cope with the Impacts of Climate Change through Agroforestry Action Research Project.” IUCN, 27 Feb. 2023, climate-change-through-agroforestry.

Morton, John F. The Impact of Climate Change on Smallholder and Subsistence … – PNAS.

Drought in Coalinga, California 

Christopher Caccese, Penn State University

Coalinga is a city of 17,000 people located in Fresno County California. Since 2022, the city has been facing a shortage of water with its only source of water being a single aqueduct. The town is set in the arid central region of California that regularly sees temperatures reach the upper 90s and above during summer months. It is also situated near California’s Central Valley, which is home to the most agricultural production in the U.S. Unfortunately, this has resulted in lots of water being allocated to farms there rather than Coalinga, which cannot rely on groundwater either (Partlow). So as a result, the town has been squeezed dry over the last year and their situation appears to only be getting worse.

Droughts have been a recurring problem in California for decades, but over recent years the state has seen reservoirs at record low levels and important water sources like the Colorado River have low levels as well. It got so bad that in the summer of 2022, city officials were predicting that the city would run out of water by the end of the year (Partlow). Since then, Coalinga has been able to purchase water from vendors, it is very expensive and only a temporary fix. As the rest of the state falls further into drought, these problems Coalinga is facing will only become worse as it will be harder for a small community like them to get water.

To help soften the drought, water conservation practices can be somewhat useful tools along with changing landscaping to be less water-consuming. Other solutions can include recycling water on a larger scale. A more permanent solution would be to construct a small transportation network of canals or tunnels to bring water from the east to Coalinga.


DWR Provides Funding to City of Coalinga for Emergency Water Purchase. (2022, November 2). Department of Water Resources, Provides-Funding-to-City-of-Coalinga-for-Emergency-Water-Purchase.

Marsh, R. 92022, November 1). This City Paid $1.1m to Keep Faucets Running through March as the Price of Water Skyrockets in California. CNN.

Partlow, J. (2022, October 10). A California City’s Water Supply Is Expected to Run out in Two Months. The Washington Post. environment/2022/10/10/drought-california-water-levels/.

8 Affordable Water Solutions for California. (n.d.). Planning and Conservation League,

Drought in Turkana, Kenya

Elena Caputo, Penn State University

Despite being East Africa’s largest economic hub, Kenya’s economy (along with daily life) has taken a major hit as it attempts to handle its most recent drought, a phenomenon that has become increasingly frequent in the last twenty years. The current drought has forced the government to declare a national emergency as it leaves water sources dried up and crops depleted. In Kenya alone, over 100,000 children under the age of 5 are severely malnourished. UNICEF estimates that nearly 2 million children across the Horn of Africa are seeking urgent treatment for life-threatening malnutrition. Turkana, a county in northern Kenya, however, has been hit even harder than most.

Turkana, like many in Kenya’s northern region, is a pastoralist community, meaning its economy depends on the work of nomadic livestock herders. They require rain not just for their water supplies but also to maintain their pastures. Without rain, the country has lost 2.5 million heads of livestock, and the remaining 10 million will continue without pasture or water with no end in sight. The uncertainty of the duration of the droughts is part of the problem. Scientists at NASA have declared that this drought, as with several previous ones, is undoubtedly the result of climate change, but as climate change continues to progress, the frequency of these droughts increases as well. Since 1904, Kenya experienced emergency droughts approximately every 10 years, but since 2001, they have occurred every 3 to 5 years. It’s created a situation in which already vulnerable communities like Turkana have less and less time to recover (and thus, fewer and fewer resources to fall back on), and this problem can manifest itself in the ways people attempt to cope. Many in Turkana have switched to harvesting firewood and charcoal to make a living, but this can end up further degrading the environment.


Kahinju, J. (2022, October 4). Northern Kenya faces hunger crisis as drought wipes out livestock. Reuters. wipes-out-livestock-2022-09-29/

Ahern, C. (2021, September 23). Consequences of the climate crisis in northern Kenya. Concern USA.

Mokku, J. (2023, January 4). Climate change destroys the livelihoods of Kenyan pastoralists. Africa Renewal.

Droughts in Las Vegas

Aidan Crosby, Penn State University

Las Vegas has been impacted severely by increasing droughts due to rising temperatures attributed to climate change. Two critical water sources the Colorado River and Lake Mead closely located near the city have seen drastic drops in their water levels over the past decades. Lake Mead is especially crucial to Las Vegas because it provides the city with the majority of its fresh water. It also serves as a power source from the Hoover Dam that holds back Lake Mead. There also exist outside factors impacting the community of Las Vegas. Communities that stretch along the Colorado River also are dealing with droughts and the river acts as their main water source. This further places strain on this crucial water source.

In an attempt to limit water consumption and usage, the city has enacted restrictions. These restrictions range from the usage of water in tourist areas, on greenery, and within households. Other efforts have centered around reducing water evaporation of water sources. The restrictions have largely been successful with an estimated reduction in water usage of around 40%. Despite efforts to reduce water usage and preserve as much as possible, the city is still not free of the problem. A growing population further places strain on water sources. An economy that centers around tourists drawing in millions also places it strain on water resources. Hoover Dam is also unable to produce full power output due to low water levels.

The city could see further water restrictions enacted to reduce further depletion of water sources. Yet with continuous severe droughts and rising temperatures, the city can mitigate the problem as long as possible. The city could eventually face population decline and a difficult situation.


NBCUniversal News Group. (2022, August 25). Coming soon to the Las Vegas Strip: Drought rules barring fountains, rivers and Lakes. fountains-rivers-lakes-rcna44628

Las Vegas. (2023, February 2). In Wikipedia.

Drought in Hatkarwadi, India

Aisling McSwiney, Penn State University

Currently, in India, there are hundreds of villages suffering from the impacts of climate change that have caused serious drought. Some of the main villages I have researched are Hatkarwadi, Ranagadh, Thapewadi, and Phalakewadi. I will focus on Hatkarwadi Village. Hatkarwadi is located in the Maharashtra state of the Beed district. This community is extremely vulnerable because it is agriculture based and was originally an area for raising crops and animals. However, running agriculture is impossible without enough water. Hatkarwadi use to be home to about 2,000 people living in squat homes. Now due to the drought, the majority of people have left in search of water to continue farming. There is currently an estimate of only 10 to 15 families remaining. During warmer months heat can get up to 45 degrees Celsius, about 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat is due to the El Niño weather patterns which have not only impacted India. Years ago their water came from wells and hand pumps but, now they are all almost completely dried up from the excruciating heat. The village is considered abandoned with how few people are left and it is predicted to only continue to get worse as more people leave or die out due to age and illness. Illness can come from dehydration. Some efforts are being made to help Hatkarwadi and other surrounding villages impacted by the drought. The state of Maharashtra has sent water tankers to refill their wells. Maharashtra is sending out 6,000 of these water tankers a day to all these villages. This has become increasingly difficult though since the neighboring state of Karnataka is also in need of water which makes it difficult to distribute between the two. Currently, this is the only seen solution to help Hatkarwadi.


Hatkarwadi, Maharashtra. (2023, January 28). In Wikipedia.,_Maharashtra

Relph, S. (2019, June 11). Indian Villages Lie Empty as Drought Forces Thousands to Flee – Sick and Elderly Left to Fend for Themselves – No Water Left in 35 Major Dams. Desdemona Despair.

Relph, S. (2019, June 12). Indian Villages Lie Empty as Drought Forces Thousands to Flee. The Guardian. forces-thousands-to-flee

Drought in Baidoa, Somalia

Andrew O’Grady, Penn State University

Water is essential for all living things, and without it, we will die. Drought can make communities suffer painfully, and Baidoa, Somalia, has been an example of how catastrophic and devastating a drought can truly be. A drought happens when there is no rainfall in a region, and this happens due to ocean temperatures changing, climate change, and other factors. Baidoa is currently in one of the worst droughts in history, and even though the drought is stretching all across Somalia, Baidoa is at the epicenter. Baidoa is vulnerable for a number of reasons, one of them being its topography. The moisture that monsoon winds would bring to the region is lost by the time they reach there, the deforestation that happens constantly also makes it prone to drought, and human-caused climate change has made droughts more severe and deadly for regions like Baidoa. Somalia is also a very underdeveloped country, with political instability, this means that they do not have the resources nor unity to solve this problem that has been slowly destroying the region.

The forecasted impacts are catastrophic, and they have already begun. A hunger crisis has taken over the region, which could soon lead to famine. Due to the drought, crop production and livestock have not been able to survive. Without food, the population has been entering starvation and thousands have been perishing. Other factors could happen if the drought continues such as epidemic diseases, malnutrition, and displacement of communities.

Unfortunately, we cannot make it rain, however, we can survive drought by water conservation. Baidoa may also survive if their government and economy improve and they can access safe drinking water elsewhere, and also by receiving aid from other nations. Even though Baidoa has its own political problems and the region may not recover due to upheaval, if the drought ends, the food crisis will be solved.


United Nations. (n.d.). Somalia: $2.6 billion appeal to support millions amid historic drought and famine fears | UN news. United Nations.

In their own words: Displaced by drought in Somalia. The IRC. (n.d.).

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Somalia crisis. World Health Organization.

Timeline: Breaking down more than a decade of drought in Somalia. Concern Worldwide. (2022, December 22).

Drought in Great Lake, California

Harris Sohail, Penn State University

The threat being faced by Grant Lake is an influx in the number of dead trees. The primary cause for the death of these trees is the extended period of drought. Since 2020, California has been experiencing the driest and warmest years recorded. At the end of September 2022, 94% of the state was experiencing some degree of drought. In this these types of climate conditions, it becomes increasingly harder for trees to grow and preserve their health, and the continuous years without sufficient rainwater are beginning to wipe out tree populations. The community is vulnerable due to the attempts to suppress forest fires within the last hundred years. As a result of forests not experiencing as many wildfires as usual, the forests have experienced overgrowth, which along with high temperatures and droughts, makes trees more vulnerable to diseases and death. The forests are too dense, and since there is such a high population in a small area, the trees must compete to get the little water the area receives. The droughts make it difficult for trees to maintain their health or recover if their health deteriorates. It is expected that trees not only in Grant Lake but across the state, will continue to die at high rates due to climate change until California begins to receive more rainfall for the next few years. Proposed solutions to increase wildlife resilience and combat the effects of the drought are to thin overpopulated forests, spray trees with insecticide to protect them from diseases and monitor the landscape surrounding the forests.


Smithsonian Magazine. (2023, February 13). California Lost 36 Million Trees to Drought Last Year. Smithsonian Institution. drought-last-year

Drought in Many Farms Community in Navajo Nation

Gregory R. Bancroft, Penn State University

While sea level is rising across the globe, many communities in the American Mid-West are actually experiencing drought due to climate change. One such community affected by severe drought is the Many Farms community of the Navajo Nation. In an interview done by Annie Sinsabaugh for WBUR, Roland Tso, who works as a grazing official in the Many Farms community explains his perspective on the impacts of drought on his community, and how the people of Many Farms are adapting to the situation. Tso explains that in Many Farms, the water table is quickly dropping, which means residents of the area need to drill deeper to find water. While needing to drill deeper to gain access to such a crucial natural resource might seem like enough of a problem in and of itself, Tso says this is just the beginning of Many Farms’ water-related problems. The bigger issue with the water table dropping in this region is that drilling deeper to find water is leading to pollutants like Arsenic and Uranium being found along with it. This Native American community, which once had a reservoir from which to get fresh water as well as several species of fish, now can hardly depend on that reservoir to irrigate its 1200 acres of farm and grazing lands. This is because the Many Farms reservoir constantly dries up. In his interview, published in late August of 2021, Tso mentions that just two months prior, their reservoir dried up completely. He goes on to explain that because of the reservoir drying up so often, local aquatic wildlife populations, which were once plentiful, have all but disappeared. Currently, the Many Farms community’s approach to solving the problem is to adapt to the scenario. Tso talks about working alongside the community’s leadership to teach people to conserve more water, although he also says that many residents of Many Farms, who were traditionally farmers, have resorted to buying their food and crops from supermarkets instead of growing them themselves, and that many cattle owners have been forced to cut back on their cattle numbers simply because they cannot provide for as many animals as they used to. Tso’s overall tone when speaking about the prospect of a future in the area for the next generation of Navajo seems bleak. His last words on the subject in the interview, surmise that if drought in the area continues, just surviving in Many Farms will become increasingly difficult.


Sinsabaugh, A. & Tso, R. (2021, August 25). First Person: How Western Droughts Impact Navajo Farmers. On Point, WBUR. navajo-farmers. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Drought in Las Vegas, NV, USA

Danielle Dedeaux, Penn State University

For this assignment, I chose the city of Las Vegas, Nevada in the Western United States. Las Vegas, nicknamed Sin City or ‘Vegas,’ is known for being a city in the Mojave Desert that hosts many large resorts, casinos, event halls, and more. It’s a popular tourist destination and sees millions of visitors each year. But beneath its shinnying lights and amazing nightlife, Las Vegas faces a big problem that threatens visitors, residents, and the entire city itself.

The city of Las Vegas is currently in a drought. Droughts refer to long periods without rainfall. Receiving no rain for a long period is a problem, the issue becomes exacerbated when the lack of rainfall is paired with the depletion of water levels in the nearby bodies of water that people use for all their needs. Vegas gets its water from nearby sources, like the Colorado River and Lake Mead, which supplies most of its water. However, those water sources are drying up putting this desert city at major risk.

Water is essential to life. It’s one of the necessities that humans need to survive. From plumbing to drinking to fountains and grass lawns, Vegas uses up a lot of water each year. It’s believed that the city uses around 489 million gallons of water every day. This figure becomes even more dramatic when you remember that Las Vegas is in a desert and receives around 4 inches of rain annually. That means Vegas relies on the Colorado River and other sources more than anything else. But water levels are decreasing. And they have been for a long time.

According to the Las Vegas Water District, this drought that Las Vegas started in the early 2000s. A News Scientists article reports that because of climate change, the area around the Colorado River is facing the driest conditions that it’s ever seen in the past twelve hundred years. The flow of the river has been declining more and more each year- losing around 20% since the year 2000. As conditions worsen, it’s believed that the river flow can be reduced by another 10% to 40% on top of everything else that was lost. That coupled with the fact that Climate Change is continuously making hot and dry places even hotter and drier than before, Las Vegas is in danger of losing everything.

The great news is that Vegas has been putting in a lot of work to fight against this drought. The city first adopted water conservation efforts starting in 2003, but as of lately they’ve increased. These conservation measures have helped put into place limits for turf and golf course water usage while creating residential water efficiency programs and organizing methods to ensure residents won’t have to go without water. Additionally, more money has been invested in pumping water from underground for the city to use. Either way, every little thing counts in this fight against the drought.


Appelbaum, E. (2022, May 16). Las Vegas Visitor Statistics and Tourism Figures 2022. Family Destinations Guide.

The Colorado River in Crisis. (2022, August 28). The Nature Conservancy. river/colorado-river-in-crisis/.

James, I. (2022, June 20). As Water Crisis Worsens on Colorado River, an Urgent Call for Western States to ‘Act Now’. Los Angeles Times. drop-states-urged-to-act-now.

Las Vegas Valley Water District. (n.d.). Drought and Conservation Measures.

Las Vegas Weather & Climate. (n.d.). Travel Online. vegas/weather.html.

Renner, T. (2021, July 27). Las Vegas Goes All in on Water Resources, Water & Wastes Digest.27 July 2021, water-resources.

Whyte, C. (2022, November 22). Why the Colorado River Is Drying up – and What We Can Do about It. New Scientist. drying-up-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/.

Winslow, B. (2022, November 15). With the Drought Getting Worse, New Nevada Law Bans All ‘Nonfunctional’ Turf by 2026. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Drought in Porto Novo, Benin

Ava Fearer, Penn State University

Because of the increase in drought in recent years, desertification has been a major problem, and the soil in Porto-Novo has become degraded, making crop growing difficult. Porto-Novo has experienced many climate changes throughout the years such as floods, droughts, heat waves, and really strong winds. Because of the unpredictability of the weather, droughts have detrimental effects such as desertification. Without the availability of water to allow vegetation to grow and provide good soil, droughts cause extremely bad land degradation, making it difficult to grow crops on this land. Degraded soil and unsuccessful harvests pose a threat to food security, which has already been a major problem for Porto-Novo residents in recent years. The drought and subsequent desertification limit the livelihoods of farmers because the land is so difficult to cultivate. Bad harvests make it difficult to sell their crops and make money.

The droughts in Porto-Novo are expected to continue to devastate the area until at least 2050 as a result of climate change. Because of this forecast of continued drought, the government has begun meetings on how to deal with this. One way to counteract the negative effects of desertification is planting more trees because, with the influx of tree growth, the soil is strengthened and less prone to erosion. The roots in trees can change the composition of the soil by fixing the nitrogen composition in it. This in turn encourages the growth of certain fungi and other microbes that are needed to produce healthy soil. Planting more trees may also help to counteract the increased emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition to planting trees, desertification caused by drought may be treated by proper water management. This may include reservoir and groundwater management, soil and crop management practices, and implementation of water allocation policies. As long as water is properly regulated and used cautiously, farmers and other agricultural workers will have proper water usage to grow crops. By improving water use efficiency, farmers would only apply the amount of water needed, saving them from using too much water that they do not have to waste. When droughts do occur, the effects wouldn’t be as terrible because there is a plan in place and stored water that can be used to counteract the extreme weather.


Porto Novo/Drought: MAA continues to subsidize 75% of water transport to livestock farmers. (2021, July 18). Inforpress.

Mildura Droughts Impacting the Economy

Aubree High, Penn State University

Water is one of the key compounds to human life. Without it, our species could not survive. We not only need it for many bodily functions but also to produce our food; over 1,000 gallons of water are used to generate enough food for one person’s daily diet (Hallock, 2014). Unfortunately, as global warming continues to have an impact on the water cycle, certain regions around the world are continuing to see increases in drought severity. For regions that rely heavily on the agricultural industry for jobs, these droughts are causing economic and social stress for farmers and their families (Kiem and Austin, 2013). The city of Mildura, located in the southeastern region of Australia, has an economy that heavily relies on farming and the agriculture industry. This community has been suffering from the effects of drought for quite some time now; the average rainfall in Mildura has been decreasing across all seasons, with the most significant changes in spring and fall (Kiem and Austin, 2013). Uncertainties regarding when to begin planting and/or harvesting crops can place farmers in financially stressful situations. Unexpected droughts can wipe out an entire season’s worth of produce, leaving farming families in great amounts of debt. In only a few years, the amount of client debt at the Rural Financial Counselling Services (RFCS) went from $15 million (2000-2001) to $48 million (2005-2006) to an astonishing $275 million (2007-2008) (Kiem and Austin, 2013). Many farming families are even being forced to obtain second jobs just to make ends meet (Kiem and Austin, 2013). In an attempt to curb these negative effects, farmers plan on creating more concentrated irrigation systems and increasing the use of dry farmland systems (Kiem and Austin, 2013). The use of water has already been overall reduced in the region, and policymakers should continue to place importance on the consumption of water. However, the most important thing that research is pushing is the notion that it is “not just a drought” (Kiem and Austin, 2013). These issues are going to keep being prevalent within our society, so we must stop treating this as though it were something that is going to end in the near future. All in all, the future of the farming industry and communities like Mildura are going to continue facing the consequences of drought. We must address the situation with the goal of reducing the severity of droughts in the future.


Hallock, Betty. “To Make a Burger, First You Need 660 Gallons of Water.” LA Times, (2014)

Kiem, Anthony S, and Emma K Austin. “Drought and the Future of Rural Communities: Opportunities and Challenges for Climate Change Adaptation in Regional Victoria, Australia.” Global Environmental Change, vol. 23,5 (2013) 1307-1316.

Droughts in Los Angeles, California

Sarah Hornick, Penn State University

For my second Capstone assignment, I researched droughts affecting the city of Los Angeles, California. The threat in Los Angeles, California is that it has been facing levels of drought ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought on and off since the year 2000 (Los  Angeles, California conditions, n.d.). This community is vulnerable to drought because it receives low amounts of rainfall and has increased levels of evaporation which intensifies the city’s drought (MacDonald, 2007). Another problem that Los Angeles faces is that runoff occurs after precipitation, which means that the water is unavailable for sustaining life (MacDonald,  2007). Even if there is a larger rate of precipitation to occur in Los Angeles, a significant amount of water will be gone due to runoff (MacDonald, 2007). Although Los Angeles does receive water via rivers, such as the Colorado River, the river itself is susceptible to drought as well which would exacerbate the drought situation occurring in Los Angeles (MacDonald, 2007). Not only are the citizens of Los Angeles affected by drought, but it also negatively impacts agriculture and wildlife in the community (MacDonald, 2007). Some solutions that Los Angeles has attempted to help relieve drought in their community involve creating policies to encourage citizens to conserve water during droughts (Vahmani & Ban‐Weiss, 2016). One way to conserve the consumption of water would be to replace landscapes and lawns with plants that could tolerate decreased water consumption (Vahmani & Ban‐Weiss, 2016). With this solution, there are arguments that a decrease in irrigation would worsen droughts (Vahmani &  Ban‐Weiss, 2016). Although a decrease in irrigation would mean less water being consumed, it would also mean that there’s a probability that it will raise the temperature of the atmosphere which would also worsen future droughts (Vahmani & Ban‐Weiss, 2016). If no solutions are implemented to help reduce drought in Los Angeles, the forecasted impact that the city will face will be prolonged increases in temperatures and increases in heatwaves which will worsen droughts (Vahmani & Ban‐Weiss, 2016).


Los Angeles, California conditions. National Integrated Drought Information System. (n.d.).

MacDonald, G. M. (2007). Severe and sustained drought in southern California and the West Present conditions and insights from the past on causes and impacts. Quaternary International, 173, 87-100.

Vahmani, P., & Ban‐Weiss, G. (2016). Climatic consequences of adopting drought‐tolerant vegetation over Los Angeles as a response to California drought. Geophysical Research Letters, 43(15), 8240-8249.

The Failure of the Great Green Wall of China

Ryan Jashinski, Penn State University

For many years, China has been trying to deal with rapid desertification as a result of climate change. The Gobi Desert has been recorded to grow 1400 square miles (about the area of Rhode Island) per year, destroying natural grassland and contributing to devastating dust storms. This expansion has many causes, but a primary contributing factor would be rapid deforestation. The Great Green Wall project was started in 1978 and will continue throughout the majority of the 21st century. This project hopes to halt the rapid desertification that the country is experiencing by creating a physical barrier of forest between the massive Gobi and the rest of China. While this is a sound and seemingly effective solution to this growing problem, many glaring issues are prohibiting this plan from working.

The expansion of the Gobi Desert caused many issues for many communities. The most important of these is the frequent dust storms. These dust storms are characterized by fierce winds that pick up light material. These dust storms are known to decimate crops and decrease soil productivity. This is detrimental to farming communities that reside just outside of the Gobi’s borders. While these dust storms have huge impacts on local agriculture, the effects are noticed in places as far as Korea and Japan.

Due to the dust storms that originate in the Gobi, an estimated 800 square miles of topsoil is blown off and scattered, leaving the land unfarmable and dangerous. This yearly removal of precious land is slowly eating away at the total available agricultural resources. Surely, if left unchecked, this will lead to a steep loss in agricultural efficiency and result in famine to follow. Many farmers have been displaced because of this desertification. Through no fault of their own, the land and their role in society have been literally and metaphorically blown away.

The largest issue with the Green Wall’s effort is the lack of biodiversity. The “forest” that is being created to hold back the Gobi. Many of the trees being planted are fast propagating ones, which makes sense considering the importance of creating the wall quickly. However, the lack of biodiversity has led to an incredibly weak ecosystem. There is a lack of animals inhabiting these forests, as well as an extreme lack of disease resistance. In just one year, over one billion trees in Ningxia were lost to disease. These trees were all Poplar, and all died of the same disease. This disaster was estimated to set the whole project back 20 years.

While there has been a disappointing amount of success for this project, many individuals were inspired to pursue their own afforestation. A woman by the name of Yin Yuzhen was commemorated in the 2020 National People’s Congress by Xi Jinping himself for her efforts in lant rehabilitation. This highly motivated woman spent 30 years curating her land and achieving what the Green Wall sought. She has managed to create a highly diverse oasis from semi-deserted land which includes many different fruit trees including pear trees, apricot trees, and peach trees. Yin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and is a shining example of how to properly combat desertification.


Yin Yuzen. (2022). In Wikipedia.

Great Green Wall (China). (2022). In Wikipedia.

Shin, J. (2021, August 23). What is the ‘Great Green Wall’ of China?

Droughts in Karachi, Indonesia

Megan Mahlandt, Penn State University

Karachi, Pakistan is a city that is home to almost 16 million residents making it the most populous city in the country. Unfortunately, the city that brings in the most revenue and helps the country’s economy is also the one that is in danger of becoming inhabitable due to the threats brought on by climate change. Karachi, Pakistan has always had a warmer climate. However, it is impossible to not pay attention to the dangerous heat that is now plaguing the city. In fact, in 2015 1,200 Karachi citizens died from a heatwave that hit the city and brought on temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit (City Monitor). An increase in temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 58 years was recorded, which greatly surpasses any other global measurements (Babar).

The city of Karachi is particularly vulnerable to the dangers of climate change because of its poor socioeconomic status. The impaired water supply systems are even more treacherous during the droughts that take place, as water demand water cannot be supplied, and unhealthy, unfiltered water is being used. For example, in 2017 14.9 percent of Karachi residents reported that they suffered gastrointestinal illnesses. In addition to this, 63 percent of Karachi residents say that unclean drinking water and uncollected hazardous solid waste affected the transmission of these infectious diseases (Babar). The fact that Karachi has faced some of the highest temperatures and deadliest droughts that the world has ever seen should make a clean and plentiful water supply its most valuable resource. Unfortunately, Karachi’s citizens are being forced to try and protect themselves from the unprecedented dangers of climate change without a sufficient amount of clean water which makes infectious diseases a crisis of their own. The future of Karachi in regards to droughts and climate change shows no sign of slowing down the rising temperature. According to the data from the Climate Change Knowledge Portal of the World Bank, all models suggest that by 2100, temperatures in Karachi will rise to 3.3 to 5.6 percent above the global average (Ali). It is also estimated that in 2022 and 2023, the number of days above 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Karachi will increase.

Unfortunately, no direct plans have been made or recorded by the government of Karachi to adapt to the rising temperatures that face the city. It should be noted that the city lacks the funding and resources that many other cities that have high temperatures (such as Phoenix) do. Researching Karachi and the devastating impacts that climate change has had on it opened my eyes to how more privileged countries need to step in and help cities like Karachi.


Pelligrino, S. (n.d.). Which cities are most affected by climate change? City Monitor.

Ali, Z. (2022, July 31). Climate Change: Karachi’s Climate Denial. DAWN.

Drought in Enschede, Netherlands

William Martin-Farmer, Penn State University

Increased drought from climate change has been an issue for many areas around the world including Australia, Northern China, and parts of the United States. However, it is also impacting one of the wettest countries in the world, the Netherlands. Droughts brought to Europe by the ever-increasing threat of climate change have forced the Dutch to find new sources of water. Throughout history, farmers in the Netherlands would use water boards and other techniques to take excess water away from their lands so that they could grow crops and raise cattle, but now they need the excess water back (Zhong, 2022). Farmers in the country are running out of water for their crops and this has been damaging the country’s economy. This has been a particular problem in the town of Enschede. Water in Enschede has been so scarce at times that many farmers have resorted to siphoning water illegally from local ponds and lakes leading to a government crackdown on this illegal siphoning. Fortunately, the Dutch government has identified this problem and the country is taking active steps to combat this drying of the land. They have been carving undulations into grassy areas to save some of the rainwater that would otherwise go into the sewer. Many cities including Enschede are tearing up concrete tiles in the cities to allow for more porous ground to be available to soak up rainwater. Farmers in Enschede have also begun using drip irrigation in place of the less efficient spray cannons (Zhong, 2022). The government is also sponsoring further scientific research to find more techniques to help the farmers keep the water they need and keep the Netherlands as the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter. The country’s government has also been preparing to take further action if global warming continues to threaten the country’s water supply.


Zhong, R. (2022, October 10). They’re ‘World Champions’ of Banishing Water. Now, the Dutch Need to Keep It. The New York Times.

Drought in Kibish

Ryan Nair, Penn State University

Kibish, a very small community in northwestern Kenya, is facing drought and arid conditions due to the effects of La Niña. According to the European Union’s joint research center, La Niña paired with some effects of climate change has caused the most severe drought in 70 years and has made the village especially vulnerable. This has led to hunger among many as there is no longer enough food or vegetation to go around leaving many malnourished. 7 million livestock have died due to the lack of water as well in the Kenyan area. Before the last 5 years, residents reported the town never had much of an issue with the water supply for more than 4 months at a time. As more La Niña events occur and as climate change continues to worsen, the impacts will get much worse with potentially many seasons without significant rainfall. The village can be deserted altogether, but that is currently not forecasted to happen. Despite this, many people of Kibish have been leaving, in particular younger groups and men, while many parts of their family have been left behind. The Climate and Migration Coalition suggests that the best solution is to try and get as many people as possible away from the area and relocate them to less vulnerable places. Another solution would be to improve infrastructure to make these villages less dependent on rainfall for their survival and build ways for the communities to access water from other locations whenever possible. The money for infrastructure however is just not there with Kenya’s president calling for action, but not doing anything of significance to help this community and while the United States and European Union have supported relocation efforts, none have supported investing in the community for its future. The village is also very close to Lake Turkana, the world’s fourth largest salt lake, so while expensive and an impossible goal, desalination efforts are a possibility as well to save the area. Overall, reducing the impacts of climate change is the best solution to keeping the village habitable while 2022 brings the worst conditions that the people have seen.


Deane, C. (2022, October 27). How Climate Change Is Forcing Kenyan Women to Leave Their Homes Behind. Unearthed. migration-kenya-displaced-cop27/.

Shadijanova, D. (2022, October 26). Climate Change Is Forcing Kenyan Women to Leave Their Homes Behind. Gal-Dem.

Droughts in Santa Ana

Raven Rickard, Penn State University

Droughts are yet another threat we face as a result of global warming. Droughts can creep up on a community slowly and cause a lot of damage and distress. A city that has been affected by droughts, and the one I want to focus on in this entry, is Santa Ana, California, which has a population of 313,329.

The city of Santa Ana is vulnerable to droughts because of the city’s high temperatures, lack of rain, and dry air masses. Santa Ana only receives about 13 inches of rainfall per year. The typical U.S. average is 38 inches. Santa Ana also receives 0 inches of snowfall per year, with the U.S. average being 28 inches. Lack of rainfall and high temperatures put Santa Ana rivers, streams, and other water sources at risk of drying out.

Santa Ana is in its third year of droughts caused by a historic level of dryness. According to climate models, the upcoming warm and drier years forecast that there will be an increase in the severity of droughts in areas such as Santa Ana. It only seems to be getting worse. Santa Ana winds, which are very strong, dry, down-sloping winds, combined with the existing droughts are a recipe for a devastating fire season.

The Santa Ana community is trying to find solutions to handle persisting drought situations in many ways. The governor is asking for a voluntary 15% reduction in the amount of water usage. Since July 2021, water usage has been reduced by only 3.7%. The city has also been following water conservation requirements. Some of these requirements include limiting watering lawns to two days a week. This watering must be done only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The state of California even began to issue $500 penalty fines to anyone who waters their lawn after it rains. Another requirement includes the repairing of leaks on a resident’s property within 48 hours of receiving a notice. There is also absolutely no washing of roads or sidewalks. Residents are not washing their cars unless it is with a shut-off nozzle in an attempt to preserve water. Santa Ana residents are also expected to help water and save trees on their properties during droughts. These may seem like small things, but every little bit can help in reducing the amount of water their community uses and getting through the drought.


Update: Improvement in California’s Drought Conditions. (n.d.). City of Santa Ana Drought Update.

Climate in Santa Ana, California. (n.d.) Best Places.

Santa Ana Adopts Adopts Water Conservation Actions. n.d. Web. https://www.santa Accessed Sept 2022.

Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority. n.d. Web. Accessed Sept 2022.

Santa Ana Winds. n.d. Web. Accessed Sept 2022.

Santa Ana Winds May Not Get Better with Climate Change. n.d. Web. not-get-any-better-climate-change. Accessed Sept 2022.

Drought in London, England

Alexandria Shea, Penn State University

Drought is a very serious problem that impacts people, animals, and our environmental resources. Among those mentioned, endangered species, vegetation, and lower-income communities are the most vulnerable to drought and other issues. Thanks to climate change, drought has been significantly increasing in occurrence and severity over the last few decades, and according to studies, drought is 3x more likely to occur because of this. While the earth’s surface consists of more than 70% water, only 3% of that is safe for drinking, and even less than that is accessible to humans (Relief Web).

One community that is all too familiar with drought is London, England. The seasonality of rainfall is on the rise, meaning that London will see less rain in the summer and more in winter. Summer rain is expected to decrease by 29% by the 2080s (Climate London). London experienced a very hot and dry summer, and they’re still recovering from the effects of such. July of 2022 was the driest of that month for London since 1885. Water levels were so low this summer that the government had to issue water bans preventing residents from watering lawns, filling pools, as well as cleaning houses or cars. However, along with the drought London suffered under an extreme heat wave leading to a high demand for water that simply was not available, the highest demand in 25 years according to Thames Water (CNBC). Conditions are so dire that water restrictions are expected to last in London until early 2023 or longer (The Guardian, Aug).

The severity of drought is determined by four tiers, and there is concern that if London does not have significant rainfall this winter and early in 2023, London will enter “severe drought”, the most extreme of the four tiers (The Guardian, Aug). The reason London is so vulnerable is largely due to heat waves, lack of rainfall, and the growing population in this major city straining the water supply. The city relies on rainfall to restore water reserves in the city (London Scoping Study). In the summer of 2022, the River Thames in London reached its lowest water levels since 2005 after London experienced six consecutive months of low rainfall (CNBC, Your Weather). Some reservoirs are still empty as of October. Only one reservoir across the entirety of England is at a normal water level, so London cannot seek help from neighboring cities (The Guardian, Oct). When the ground becomes so dry, it is difficult to absorb water. Once it does, rain will pool on top of the hardened, dry soil, or run down slopes (Red Cross UK). Experts say that London needs “consistent above-average rainfall” to end the drought. This makes the road to recovery a long and difficult one.

These extreme water restrictions also impact the economy and cause sometimes irreversible damage to the environment with plants and crops dying (London Scoping Study, Red Cross UK). Farmers are concerned that fruits and vegetables will not be able to grow next year due to the predicted drought continuation. Some concerns state that the fruit and vegetable supply could even collapse in 2023 (The Guardian, Oct). In addition to the economic stress on farmers and other members of the food supply chain, most small to medium businesses are not prepared for extreme drought and struggle to maintain their business during these conditions. The city also is a victim of loss of tourism, causing a big hit to economic stability (London Scoping Study).

The Health and quality of life of residents are also impacted by the extremely dry conditions (London Scoping Study). Limited water can lead to lower hygiene and the spread of illnesses, mental health issues from the worry that comes with lack of resources, and heatstroke when dehydrated in high temps (Redcross UK). Looking ahead, there is a concern for increased injuries with burns and scalds from boiling non-potable water (London Scoping Study). Drought can lead to an increased need for healthcare and stress on the healthcare system due to increased illnesses and injuries.

Looking ahead, London may continue in a drought throughout 2023, or increase in level to a “severe drought” (The Guardian, Aug & The Guardian, Oct). Because London needs a significant amount of above-average rainfall to get out of the drought, the dry conditions may continue well into the new year. Some experts are even predicting that the conditions may last past summer. Farms are and will continue to struggle to return to previous moisture levels (Your Weather). The CEO of the Environment Agency, James Brown, believes that London could run out of water in 25 years. Many UK residents are concerned for the future, but 64% claim they have not received information on how to prepare or protect themselves from drought (Relief Web). Because of climate change and the growing population, bigger plans and safeguards need to be set in place to prevent consistent, severe droughts in London (Your Weather).

Short-term considerations for mitigating the detriment of the drought include reducing water pressure to a level considered below the minimum, and in extreme instances using water mains to provide London residents with non-potable water that requires boiling before consumption (London Scoping Study) Residents have been placed on hosepipe bans and other water restrictions (The Guardian). Disposable grill sales were banned due to the danger it posed in extremely dry conditions (BBC). Long-term considerations are being discussed by The National Drought Group, which is comprised of water companies and government agencies. Many experts believe that a more thorough plan and immediate action is necessary to prevent London from running out of water completely (The Guardian).


Drought (n.d.). London Climate Change Partnership.

Frangoul, A. (2022, August 17). Drought conditions in Britain prompt water restrictions for millions of Londoners. CNBC.

Horton, H. & Harvey, F. (2022, August 14). Drought in England could carry on into new year, experts warn. The Guardian.

UK heatwave: London officially declared in drought. (2022, August 12). BBC News.

London severe drought scoping study. (2017, October). Thames Water. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

UK droughts: what are they and why are they happening? (n.d.). British Red Cross.

Horotn, H. (2022, October 15). Drought threatens England’s fruit and vegetable crop next year, says report. The Guardian.

Early, C. (2022, October 22). UK might still be in drought beyond spring 2023, Environment Agency warns. Meteored.

Horton, H. (2022, October 14). England could be in drought beyond spring 2023, say ministers. The Guardian.

100 years of UK rainfall: when was it this dry before? (n.d.). DataBlog. The Guardian.


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Communities in Crisis: Student Voices on Climate Change Copyright © 2021 by College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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