A drought occurs when there no rain for a long period of time. In a drought plants do not grow properly and the water supply to homes and to industry is limited. As streams and rivers dry up plants and animals die. In areas where trees have been cut down, hot winds blow away the dry topsoil. Because farm crops and animals die due to lack of water, there is less food for people to eat, and what food there costs more. If a drought lasts a long time, people may also die of starvation and the land may become desert.

To prepare for a time of drought, people store water in dams and use the water from larger rivers to irrigate their crops. Planting trees may help stop the soil being blown away in times of drought.

Wildlife is at risk too.
Without rain, the plant food eaten by land animals and birds is in short supply or dies out all together. When waterways dry up wildlife has no drinking water. Fish and other animals that live in streams, rivers and dams will die when the waterways dry up.

Drought and frogs
Frogs need water in which to lay their eggs and for the tadpoles to live in as they develop into frogs. There are many creeks, rivers, wetlands and so on that may not have dried up in the drought. However there may not be as much water as usual, but frogs do not need much water in which to breed. Different species have different habits, and some frogs breed in temporary ponds that may not have filled during the drought. These species would be affected, and would have to seek other water, or else they may not breed during the driest months.

Drought and reptiles
Reptiles can dig themselves into the ground, under or inside logs, under rocks and so on, and go into a sleeplike state (it is called torpor) until the ground get moist again, when they wake up and get active once more.

To read about the effects of drought on kangaroos click here

To read about the effects of drought on koalas click here

Bushfires in time of drought
In periods of drought there may also be a greater risk of bushfires in forest and grasslands. The plant cover dries out and lightning strikes cause bushfires. Wildlife, farm animals and people are in danger from these fires.

Conserving water
People are told to stop washing their cars, to stop watering the grass and take other water conservation steps such as taking shorter showers and making sure that there are no dripping taps in their houses.

El Nino (it means 'the boy' in Spanish)
Scientists think that when a warm ocean current which they call El Nino occurs in the Pacific Ocean, it has an effect on weather around the world. Scientists think that when it flows, once every three to eight years, the air pressure over the sea is reduced and winds that normally bring rain to land blow less often and drought occur.

To read more about El Nino




Read about living with drought in Australia

Acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Drought (2005). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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Updated March 2005