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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378720

Research Project: Integrating Remote Sensing, Measurements and Modeling for Multi-Scale Assessment of Water Availability, Use, and Quality in Agroecosystems

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Title: Agricultural and food security impacts from the 2010 Russia flash drought

item HUNT, ERIC - Atmospheric And Environmental Research
item FEMIA, F. - The Center For Climate And Security
item WERRELL, C. - The Center For Climate And Security
item CHRISTIAN, J. - University Of Oklahoma
item OTKIN, J. - University Of Wisconsin
item BASARA, J. - University Of Oklahoma
item Anderson, Martha
item WHITE, T. - University Of Nebraska
item HAIN, C. - Nasa Marshall Space Flight Center
item RANDALL, R. - Us Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Army
item MCGAUGHEY, K. - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: Weather and Climate Extremes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/5/2021
Publication Date: 9/18/2021
Citation: Hunt, E., Femia, F., Werrell, C., Christian, J., Otkin, J., Basara, J., Anderson, M.C., White, T., Hain, C., Randall, R., Mcgaughey, K. 2021. Agricultural and food security impacts from the 2010 Russia flash drought . Weather and Climate Extremes. 34:100383.

Interpretive Summary: In 2010, a very severe rapid onset or “flash” drought event occurred in western Russia, intensifying just as major wheat crops were in their flowering stage. The resulting significant and largely unanticipated reduction in Russian wheat production triggered a global response in wheat prices and may have contributed to unrest in Arab countries including Egypt and Tunisia. This paper documents the rapid onset of vegetation stress using rapid response drought indicators based on modeled soil moisture and remotely sensed evapotranspiration, which provide consistent information regarding the timing and spatial extent of the flash drought event. This paper discusses the Impacts to winter and spring wheat production in western Russia and the response of global markets, resulting regional food insecurity, and civil unrest.

Technical Abstract: The flash drought and its associated heat wave that affected western Russia in the summer of 2010 was an agricultural and socioeconomic disaster. Drought indicators sensitive to soil moisture and evapotranspiration (ET) showed that the flash drought began in June 2010, then intensified rapidly and expanded to cover much of western Russia. By early July, almost all of the major wheat producing oblasts of Russia were experiencing extreme water stress to the winter and spring wheat crops. The timing of the onset of the flash drought was particularly devastating as the period of most rapid intensification overlapped with the flowering stage for both the winter and spring wheat crops. The desiccation of the landscape by early July further contributed to a heat wave later in July and early August that led to thousands of excess deaths and wildfires. The flash drought led to a 20 million metric ton reduction in Russian wheat production compared to previous years and many oblasts saw yields reduced by more than 70 percent. This significant reduction in wheat led the Russian government to ban all exports on wheat in August 2010, resulting in a rapid rise in global prices that were further exacerbated by a drought over a major wheat producing region in China later in 2010. These cascading socioeconomic impacts made bread unaffordable in many countries, contributing to a rise in poverty and food insecurity, and broadened civil unrest in many Arab countries, including Egypt and Tunisia.