Flash droughts in India

Why in News?

As per a new study, the number of flash droughts could be increased in India, by the end of this century.


  • Flash droughts: These droughts occur very quickly due to the rapid depletion of soil moisture. It is different from normal drought conditions, that develop in months, but the flash drought happens within a week or two.
  • Factors: Several factors including Lesser precipitation, high temperature, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions play an important role in the occurrence of flash droughts.
  • Flash droughts in India: The top five flash droughts in India based on the overall severity score occurred in 1979 (about 40% of the country was affected) followed by 2009, 1951, 1986, and 2005.

Key Takeaways from the study:

  • The ongoing climate change has caused a significant increase in global temperature. It can lead to more and more flash droughts in the coming years.
  • There is a five-fold rise in the frequency of extremely dry and hot years in the coming three decades. This is causing an approximately seven-fold increase in flash droughts like 1979, by the end of the 21st century.
  • Impact: The increased frequency of flash droughts can have severe implications for crop production, irrigation demands, and groundwater abstraction in India.


  • Limiting Global Warming: By limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees C, the numbers and frequency of the projected flash droughts may go down.
  • Predicting flash droughts: Flash-drought prediction ahead of time using operational meteorological forecasts will help manage irrigation water demands and avoid considerable losses in agriculture.

Source: The Hindu

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