Drought: Unit Overview

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Why study drought?

Compared with fast and fascinating weather disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes, drought doesn't get much attention. It's a quieter disasterone that creeps in so inconspicuously that it's not always clear that it has arrived. Despite the fact that it is less obvious than other disasters, its pervasiveness and persistence make it every bit as deadly.

Most regions of the United States experience drought at least occasionally. Depending upon how severe the conditions get and how long they last, drought can devastate crops and forests as well as businesses. When drought occurs, water supplies for agriculture, industry, and personal use decrease, and people in the affected areas need to find ways to cope with the shortage or leave the area.

Completing the labs

All of the labs require browser software and Internet access. The Web pages for each lab contain links to external sites where you'll access data, graphs, or articles. Some labs require laboratory equipment. Several labs also require additional software programs: a spreadsheet program (i.e. Microsoft Excel or Open Office) and Google Earth must be installed and available on the computer you're using in order to complete all of the assigned learning tasks.

Key Questions

Key Questions addressed by this unit include:
  • What is drought?
  • What are its causes, symptoms, and impacts?
  • Where and when does drought occur?
  • How can humans reduce the impacts of drought?
  • Can new technologies beat drought?

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