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Drought: Progress in broadening its understanding

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Abstract Drought affects many aspects of society and its impact is global. To this end, rendering recurrent drought occurrences is a key research focus. Recently, in addition to existing knowledge, progress in scientific advancements regarding drought have been observed on a regional and global scale. Here, we reviewed and outlined current and emerging scientific developments in drought, focusing on progress made in recent years. In the human‐modified world, the anthropogenic effects on drought were dominant and drought‐frequency showed a prominent increase. In this study, we have identified the development of drought concepts, types, and indices, and their indicators were developed as sector‐specific, comprehensive, and oriented towards multiple scales. Anthropogenic changes have enhanced hydrological processes and affected the development of drought. Urbanization, deforestation, and related human activities have aggravated drought. Climate change has had an exacerbating role in drought, which is expected to increase during the 21st century. Human communities, in particular, are undertaking activities that cause droughts; suffering from and coping with their impact. In addition, the direct and indirect effects of drought need reconsideration. As such, the health impact of droughts is a concern in drought‐vulnerable societies and its burden on public health is largely unknown. The need for drought recovery to aid in effective ecosystem functioning in the aftermath of the drought and the development of mitigation measures to alleviate recurrent drought is critical. Enhanced drought monitoring and management options are required under existing environmental and socio‐economic setups in the 21st century. This article is characterized under: Science of Water > Water Extremes Engineering Water > Planning Water Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Conceptual diagram illustrating the cause, impacts of and resilience to drought. Note: ENSO, El Niño/Southern Oscillation; SSTs, sea surface temperatures; ITCZ, Inter‐Tropical Convergence Zone. Boxes indicate the different aspects of drought. Yellow arrows show linkages from one aspect of drought to the other indicating cause–effect relationships
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Illustration of the drought characteristics using its duration, severity and intensity at different timescales. X‐axis: years/months (black line), Y‐axis: drought intensity levels and the blue line represents a threshold line. Drought events refer to those years/months that a given drought index value is below the threshold line
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Illustration of the drought developments and changes as influenced by human activities in the Anthropocene
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Science of Water > Water Extremes
Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Engineering Water > Planning Water

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