Regional Drought Risk in the Contiguous United States

Tushar Apurv, Ximing Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we provide an outlook for regional drought risk in the contiguous US (CONUS) in the near future based on ongoing drought trends, and assess its impacts on soil moisture, streamflow, and water supply in different regions. It is found that the meteorological drought risk has been decreasing in northern parts of the CONUS and increasing in the Southwest and Southeast United States (US). In the Southwest US, droughts are associated with severe deficits in soil moisture and streamflow, which can adversely affect ecosystems in the region. Meanwhile, droughts are expected to have severe impacts on water supply and agriculture in the Southeast US due to increasing water demand, limited storage capacity, and predominantly rainfed agriculture in the region. The study shows that the impacts of droughts on natural and human systems are influenced by nonlinearity of the drought propagation process and vary significantly across regions in the CONUS.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL092200
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2021


  • drought propagation
  • water supply drought
  • soil moisture drought
  • natural and human systems
  • meteorological drought
  • hydrologic drought
  • drought risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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