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Lack or insufficiency of rain for an extended period that severely disturbs the hydrologic cycle in an area. Droughts involve water shortages, crop damage, streamflow reduction, and depletion of groundwater and soil moisture. They occur when evaporation and transpiration exceed precipitation for a considerable period. Drought is the most serious hazard to agriculture in nearly every part of the world. Efforts have been made to control it by seeding clouds to induce rainfall, but these experiments have had only limited success.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on drought, visit Britannica.com.