Extreme Weather

Are droughts getting worse?

October 31, 2023


Climate change is making droughts more frequent, longer and more severe.

Current research points to a remarkably drier future. Based on an August 2023 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, about 34.3% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 6.2% from the beginning of August. Drought conditions expanded or intensified along the Northern Tier, Upper Midwest, Southwest, southern Plains, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Hawaii.

While rising global average temperatures increase the moisture the atmosphere can hold and therefore bring more storms and heavy precipitation, they can also simultaneously bring more intense dry spells as more water evaporates from the land and global weather patterns change.

Key Takeaways

  1. 1.

    Climate change exacerbates droughts by making them more frequent, longer, and more severe.

  2. 2.

    Distortions in the water cycle are most evident in its extremes—droughts and floods.

Additional Resource

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: August 2023 Drought Report