Droughts and water scarcity collectively represent a substantial threat to our natural environment, agricultural and industrial production, water supply infrastructure and societal well-being. The ‘risk’ of drought can be considered as the product of the probability of a drought occurring and the consequences of the drought.

However, our ability to characterise and understand their occurrence, duration and intensity, and to effectively implement management responses to minimise their impacts, is often inadequate or inappropriate. The drivers of drought and water scarcity, both meteorological and sectoral (for example, supply and demand balance, water storage, transfer and utility trends) are often considered in isolation with little attention given to integrated impacts or inter-dependencies. 

We also often ignore to how droughts influence the behaviour of complex hydrological, ecological, agricultural, social and economic systems. It is thus difficult to calculate the costs associated with stressing these systems, in order to make more informed management decisions regarding trade-offs between competing water demands under conditions of water scarcity or drought.

This short course considers the different definitions of drought and the derivation and application of selected drought risk metrics, the engineering and management measures available to reduce impact, and economic techniques for evaluating drought impacts and managing drought risk. The course focuses on impact and management responses in three key sectors, domestic (public water supply), agriculture (rainfed and irrigated cropping) and the environment (aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems).

At a glance

  • Dates
    • Please enquire for course dates
  • DurationThree days
  • LocationCranfield campus
  • Cost£870

Course structure

This course is delivered via a mixture of lectures, workshops and practical sessions. During this short course, you will be joined by full-time and part-time students from our master's and PhD courses, creating a dynamic and interactive experience.

What you will learn

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define drought risk, their main characteristics and impacts, and policy landscape,
  • Calculate and apply different drought indicators(metrics) including assessing their utility and limitations,
  • Critically evaluate the role of alternative approaches to managing drought risks,
  • Explain the impacts of climate change on the frequency and severity of drought risks.

Core content

  • Introduction. Definition of risk. Roles and responsibilities in drought management,
  • Drought metrics (Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI), SPEI, Drought Palmer Severity Index (DPSI), Potential Soil Moisture Deficit (PSMD) and their spatio-temporal relevance to different sectors;
  • Impacts of droughts on different sectors and the environment,
  • Soft and hard engineering strategies to mitigate drought risk at local (individual business) and catchment scales;
  • Management approaches to tackle drought risk at different levels,
  • Cost-benefit analysis for assessing different management options to tackle weather extremes,
  • Climate change and water-related weather extremes.

Location and travel

Cranfield University is situated in Bedfordshire close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The University is located almost midway between the towns of Bedford and Milton Keynes and is conveniently situated between junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.

London Luton, Stansted and Heathrow airports are 30, 90 and 90 minutes respectively by car, offering superb connections to and from just about anywhere in the world. 

Further location and travel details

Location address

Cranfield University
College Road
MK43 0AL

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