Meteorologists track hurricanes over the oceans, forecasting where and when landfall might occur so residents can prepare for disaster before it strikes. What if they could do the same thing for droughts?
Stanford scientists have now shown that may be possible in some instances — the researchers have identified a new kind of “landfalling drought” that can potentially be predicted before it impacts people and ecosystems on land. They found that these droughts, which form over the ocean and then migrate landward, can cause larger and drier conditions than droughts that occur solely over the land. Of all the droughts affecting land areas worldwide from 1981 to 2018, roughly one in six were landfalling droughts, according to the study published Sept. 21 in Water Resources Research.
“We normally don’t think about droughts over the ocean — it may even sound counterintuitive. But just as over land, there can be times