Flash drought: A state of the science review

WIREs Water
By: , and 



In the two decades, since the advent of the term “flash drought,” considerable research has been directed toward the topic. Within the scientific community, we have actively forged a new paradigm that has avoided a chaotic evolution of conventional drought but instead recognizes that flash droughts have distinct dynamics and, particularly, impacts. We have moved beyond the initial debate over the definition of flash drought to a centralized focus on the triad of rapid onset, drought development, and associated impacts. The refinement toward this general set of principles has led to significant progress in determining key variables for monitoring flash drought development, identifying notable case studies, and compiling fundamental physical characteristics of flash drought. However, critical focus areas still remain, including advancing our knowledge on the atmospheric and oceanic drivers of flash drought; developing flash drought-specific detection indices and monitoring systems tailored to practitioners; improving subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction of these events; constraining uncertainty in flash drought and impact projections; and using social science to further our understanding of impacts, particularly with regard to sectors that lie outside of our traditional hydroclimatological focus, such as wildfire management and food-security monitoring. Researchers and stakeholders working together on these critical topics will assure society is resilient to flash drought in a changing climate.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Flash drought: A state of the science review
Series title WIREs Water
DOI 10.1002/wat2.1714
Volume 11
Issue 3
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Fort Collins Science Center, Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center
Description e1714, 28 p.
Country United States
State Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota
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