Flash Drought Typologies and Societal Impacts: A Worldwide Review of Occurrence, Nomenclature, and Experiences of Local Populations

David W. Walker*, Noemi Vergopolan, Louise Cavalcante, Kelly Helm Smith, Sehouevi Mawuton David Agoungbome, André Almagro, Tushar Apurv, Nirmal Mani Dahal, David Hoffmann, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

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Flash droughts, characterized by rapid onset and intensification, are increasingly occurring as a consequence of climate change and rising temperatures. However, existing hydrometeorological definitions fail to encompass the full range of flash droughts, many of which have distinct local physical attributes. Consequently, these events often go undetected or unforecast in generic global flash drought assessments and are underrepresented in research. To address this gap, we conducted a comprehensive survey to gather information on local nomenclature, characteristics, and impacts of flash droughts worldwide. The survey revealed the widespread occurrence of these phenomena, highlighting their underre-searched nature. By analyzing case studies, through literature review often in local languages to unearth elusive studies, we identified five different types of flash droughts based on their specific characteristics. Our study aims to increase awareness about the complexity and diverse impacts of flash droughts, emphasizing the importance of considering regional contexts and the vulnerability of affected populations. The reported impacts underscore the need for better integration of all flash drought types in drought research, monitoring, and management. Monitoring a combination of indicators is crucial for timely detection and response to this emerging and escalating threat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Climate change
  • Communications/decision-making
  • Drought
  • Extreme events
  • Societal impacts
  • Vulnerability


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