A natural Hazard is when the forces of nature combine to become destructive. They present risks to different communties in many ways, causing damage to property, loss of income, as well as having a negative effect on the people and environment in which they occurr. When a natural hazard strikes in a high density area, the impacts on humans are obvious and extremely costly. Geographers classify the impacts of natural hazards into three main categories:

-social impacts
-economic impacts
-environmental impacts

This information kit will be a guide on the 'how to' of one of Australia's most common hazard known as Drought. It will briefly describe what drought is, how it occurs, the impacts it has on a community and its environment and the what we can do to prevent it.

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Drought is a prolonged, abnormal dry period where there is little or no rain fall and not enough water for a users normal needs. It effects humans, animals and the natural environment. The weather conditions before a drought takes place are extremely dry and basically a build of of no rainfall.

Over the past ten to twelve years, drought has been effecting Australia’s environment. Drought is a natural part of Australiansclimatic pattern. Dry landscapes, failing crops and empty dams are part of the Australian way of life.The processes or environmental Impacts causing drought are mainly atmospheric and hydrological.
Drought can cause degradation and the lack of water available to plants during dry times leads to loss of vegetation particularly with native plants. The soil is no longer help together by roots and erosion occurs more likely. The quality of water in rivers are affected because the water drys up and becomes stagnant producing toxic algae. Other environmental impacts of drought include:

-loss of biodiversity
-native plants and animals may become endangered
-increase in combustible fuel for bush fires
-the worst bushfire seasons often accompany drought.

Australia's sub tropical altitude means that the inland and central regions typically experience high atmospheric pressure. High pressure systems are areas of sinking, dry air and they bring clear skies.

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Australia's sub tropical altitude means that the inland and central regions typically experience high atmospheric pressure. High pressure systems are areas of sinking, dry air and they bring clear skies.

EL Nino-
Many of the droughts that affect eastern and northern Australia are caused by the El Ninos Southern Oscillation cycle. This is a regular fluctuation in the global climate and it usually happens every few years. During El Nino strong westerly winds over the Pacific Ocean weaken. The pool of warm water that is usually in the western Pacific near Australia moves east, and the Ocean along the east coast of Australia cools. The weak winds do not pick up as much moisture as normal due to the cooler temperatures therefore there is lower rainfall in eastern Australia.

Drought is the most economically costly and widespread hazard throughout Australia. People who are involved with agricultural and live in rural areas suffer from drought the most.


•Droughts can have extreme effects on farming businesses. They can result in farmers experiencing crop failures, pasture loss, death of livestock, loss of water supplies and reduction in breeding stock, these all lead to loss of income. Bush fires become more severe because the lack of water in the earth and this then puts stress on endangered species



Referring to chart 4, on average there is a higher proportion of events with a total economic cost of less than $10m. However the total cost of events <$1om is significantly lower than those >$10m

Drought also leads to a loss of export income and can affect Australia’s economic growth. I t has a negative impact on Australian tourism as activities using various amounts of water are limited. As dams and recreational areas dry up, severe water restrictions are enforced, tourists stay away, and there is a flow-on economic effect to the other businesses in the area.

Referring to chart 2, the states Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmaina and the ACT all have the lowest annual cost ($million) for most hazards than any other state .

Drought impacts the social side of things quite a bit with food shortages and water shortages which can then lead to political disputes over dealing with water restrictions with people paying up to $2300 in fines. People then become unsatisfied with the way governments are dealing with drought. We can loose cultural sites due to not enough water and reduced quality of life which leads to changes in lifestyle and possible poverty.


Referring to Chart 1, Bushfires have a greater amount of injuries and death tolls over the time period of 1967 - 1999. Also the chart confirms that the costs ($millions) are greater than the other natural hazards. This is because the continent of Australia is hot, humid and dry which makes it vulnerable for bushfires to occur, leaving communities with nothing but dead land for them to rebuild their lives upon.


Some of the strategies farmers follow to prepare for and
cope with drought:
- Increase stock feed storage's like hay sheds.
- Feed stock with grain or hay.

Individuals in urban areas can help by:
-Abiding by water restrictions.
- Reduce the amount of grass in the garden and choose
drought-tolerant species that do not need watering.
-Take shorter showers, turn off dripping taps, use water-
efficient appliances, re-use water.
- Collect rainwater in tanks.

Australia has experienced two significant ‘100-year’ droughts over the past years. Mainly in Western New South Wales and around the Darling river.