Global-scale drought risk assessment for agricultural systems


Droughts continue to affect ecosystems, communities and entire economies. Agriculture bears much of the impact, and in many countries it is the most heavily affected sector. Over the past decades, efforts have been made to assess drought risk at different spatial scales. Here, we present for the first time an integrated assessment of drought risk for both irrigated and rainfed agricultural systems at the global scale. Composite hazard indicators were calculated for irrigated and rainfed systems separately using different drought indices based on historical climate conditions (1980–2016). Exposure was analyzed for irrigated and non-irrigated crops. Vulnerability was assessed through a socioecological-system (SES) perspective, using socioecological susceptibility and lack of coping-capacity indicators that were weighted by drought experts from around the world. The analysis shows that drought risk of rainfed and irrigated agricultural systems displays a heterogeneous pattern at the global level, with higher risk for southeastern Europe as well as northern and southern Africa. By providing information on the drivers and spatial patterns of drought risk in all dimensions of hazard, exposure and vulnerability, the presented analysis can support the identification of tailored measures to reduce drought risk and increase the resilience of agricultural systems.