Implications of changes in climate and human development on 21st-century global drought risk

Elkouk, A., Pokhrel, Y., Satoh, Y., & Bouchaou, L. (2022). Implications of changes in climate and human development on 21st-century global drought risk. Journal of Environmental Management 317 e115378. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.115378.

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Climate change is expected to exacerbate drought conditions over many global regions. However, the future risk posed by droughts depends not only on the climate-induced changes but also on the changes in societal exposure and vulnerability to droughts. Here we illustrate how the consideration of human vulnerability alters global drought risk associated with runoff (hydrological) and soil moisture (agriculture) droughts during the 21st-century. We combine the changes in drought frequency, population growth, and human development as a proxy of vulnerability to project global drought risk under plausible climate and socioeconomic development pathways. Results indicate that the shift toward a pathway of high greenhouse gas emissions and socioeconomic inequality leads to i) increased population exposure to runoff and soil moisture droughts by 81% and seven folds, respectively, and ii) a stagnation of human development. These consequences are more pronounced for populations living in low than in very high human development countries. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the majority of the world's less developed countries are located, fare the worst in terms of future drought risk. The disparity in risk between low and very high human development countries can be substantially reduced in the presence of a shift toward a world of rapid and sustainable development that actively reduces social inequality and emissions. Our results underscore the importance of rapid human development in hotspots of drought risk where effective adaptation is most needed to reduce future drought impacts.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Asia; Drought; Global; Risk; Sub-Saharan Africa
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 12:07
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 12:07

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