8. Can drought and desertification be predicted?

There are, on the one hand, traditional methods of predicting risks pertaining to drought or desertification (indigenous knowledge and local experience, e.g. of sandstorms) and, on the other hand, those based on scientific research (measurements and modelling).

Some research has included data modelling of the atmosphere, while other research has studied cycles of drought, or tried to identify which physical factors can be used to make predictions (starting from solar activity or anomalies in the surface temperature of oceans and comparing them with past climatic cycles). 

In order to do so, it is first of all necessary to collect measurements and data on precipitation, the flow of waterways, and water levels, in various climatological and hydrometric stations in all countries prone to these risks. With the help of these data, it is possible to carry out statistical analyses to determine the average conditions over a long period of time, to identify the possible beginning of a drought and the seriousness of a drought that has already set in. Mechanisms to reduce the harshness of the drought can then be put in place. 
Besides the physical indicators, there are also mechanisms which take measurements using bioindicators. 

The difficulty lies in predicting the onset date, the duration and the intensity of the periods of drought or desertification. Desertification is closely related to drought and in fact the onset of one often provokes the other.