Living With Drought
An explanation of Drought from the Bureau of Meteorology….
|Australia is the driest inhabited continent even though some areas have annual rainfall of over 1200 millimetres. Our climate is highly variable – across the continent generally, as well as from year-to-year. We must learn to live with drought!|
A drought is a prolonged, abnormally dry period when there is not enough water for users’ normal needs. Drought is not simply low rainfall; if it was, much of inland Australia would be in almost perpetual drought. Because people use water in so many different ways, there is no universal definition of drought.
Meteorologists monitor the extent and severity of drought in terms of rainfall deficiencies. Agriculturalists rate the impact on primary industries, hydrologists compare ground water levels, and sociologists define it on social expectations and perceptions.
During climate extremes, whether droughts or flooding rains, those on the land feel it most. Agriculture suffers first and most severely – yet eventually everyone feels the impact.
Drought disrupts cropping programs, reduces breeding stock, and threatens permanent erosion of the capital and resource base of farming enterprises. Declining productivity affects rural Australia and the national economy.
The risk of serious environmental damage, particularly through vegetation loss and soil erosion, has long term implications for the sustainability of our agricultural industries. Water quality suffers, and toxic algae outbreaks may occur; plants and animals are also threatened. Bushfires and duststorms often increase during dry times.