During a drought, where does the water evaporated from lakes and rivers go? If it just went into the atmosphere you’d expect that to then quickly get saturated and start raining.

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During a drought, where does the water evaporated from lakes and rivers go? If it just went into the atmosphere you’d expect that to then quickly get saturated and start raining.

In: Earth Science

Evaporated water does fall as rain but usually neither quickly or nearby. Winds keep water in the atmosphere moving around and weather patterns can mean some areas have periods of drought.

It goes into the atmosphere, your expectation is just wrong. I grew up in a hot dry area with frequent droughts and never had this expectation. Hot dry air can hold a lot of water before saturating. You’re also might be overestimating how much water there is in drought prone areas. The area where I grew up is just brown during the summer, drought or not.

It in part is evaporated into the atmosphere, which is then blown away and mixed in with all the other water evaporating, only in places like rainforests does the evaporated water fall back as rain in the same approximate location. In other locations it is depended upon positions of mountain ranges and prevailing winds etc. which determines where the rain falls.

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The atmosphere is big. Water that goes into the atmosphere in a hot dry area can scoot over the ocean and rain down somewhere else.

Drought can be caused by the diversion of water. In CA, so much of our water goes into ag, bottling and industry that it has really affected the water table and the supply of water in rivers, lakes, creeks etc in the northern part of the state. Hence drought.

A drought is a localised event, the atmosphere covers the whole globe. Just because the water cycle guarantees the evaporated water will rain back to the surface, doesn’t mean it will fall when and where you need it to. A flood in Germany in July doesn’t help the people of California suffering a drought in February.

That’s especially an issue when the environmental conditions that make it less likely to rain somewhere, are the same conditions that contributed to the drought in the first place.