A post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford creates models that forecast the impact of droughts.
England has been in a drought since 2022 due to decreased rainfall and soil and water reservoirs drying up. Climate change is the root cause of this phenomenon, which could last until spring 2023 and become recurrent in the future according to official forecasts. Drought affects agricultural activities and reduces the availability of water for households.
Usually, a drought is ‘a dry period where we see low amounts of rainfall, decreases in our soil moisture, low river levels, so when we see rivers draining, and also low reservoir levels,’ said Anna Murgatroyd, a post-doctoral researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, in a podcast for Oxford Sparks.
'We use global climate models and regional climate models to try and forecast or predict into the future.' - Anna Murgatroyd
Measures have been adopted to response to the draught such as instituting a hosepipe ban and reducing domestic water consumption. Also, water companies are including drought prevention in their long-term risk plans. This mitigation can be done by building water reservoirs to store rainwater or diverting water from rivers for later use.
To explain the situation, Murgatroyd said in the podcast: ‘we use global climate models and regional climate models to try and forecast or predict into the future to see how different are our summers and our winters going to be, compared to what we have historically observed.’
Murgatroyd, who has been seconded to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with GEOCEP, focuses on the effects of droughts on water supply and the resulting water security issues. The full interview can be heard in the podcast 'Why is the UK still in a drought?’ from Oxford Sparks.