The Main Effects of Water Scarcity on Plants

dry ground and plants

It has been scientifically proven beyond doubt that water is one of the most important elements needed by plants to naturally germinate and grow. In case of scarcity, plant life is adversely affected-and there are always negative repercussions that end up affecting the entire ecological system. The effects of water scarcity on plants are known to even alter genetic make-up of plants. In other words, plants start to undergo evolutionary changes in order to survive consistent water shortages.
There are quite a number of reasons that lead to water scarcity, and if left unchecked there can be a drastic change on the kind vegetation that covers the earth’s surface.

Factors Leading to Water Scarcity

bycicle in waterThere are a number of factors that lead to water scarcity, which have negative ripple effects on plant life. To begin with, increased population directly leads to reduction of amount of water based on the fact that development takes place in water catchment areas. Also, there is the issue of bad agricultural practices, increasing industries, and deforestation, not to mention pollution of water sources. In fact, with poor water conservation practices the amount of water has drastically reduced over the years. Of course with this trend, there is definitely going to be reduced amounts of water.

Main Effects of Water Stress on Plants

As stated, there are quite a number of negative effects that water stress has on plants. While some of the effects can be seen physically and are instantaneous, others do take time and require extensive research. Here are some of the main effects that are known:

  • Reduced Photosynthesis Process – This is one of the main process of plants that produces the green pigmentation. In case of water deficiency, plants will slow down the entire production mechanism and rearrange the photosynthesis apparatus leading to stomatal closure. Of course reduced amount of chlorophyll has negative impact on plant life.photosynthesis leaf close up
  • Protein Synthesis Issues – Plant proteins are also drastically reduced during water scarcity, and you will find that this is one of the main reasons of gene alteration. Furthermore, this stress always leads to disturbance of membranes hence affecting lipids that are crucial for plant growth. Last but not least, water scarcity leads to mineral nutrition in plants hence negative changes on structure of plant membranes can be detected.
  • Oxidation Problems – It has been proven that with drought and other related causes of water scarcity will have a direct impact on plant oxidation. In other words, plants will undergo molecular changes that will damage membranes and also negatively affect cellular metabolism. At the end of the day, there is an irreversible imbalance between how light is eventually captured and used by the plant.
  • Wilting-Tugor Pressure – It goes without saying that plants that don’t receive enough water will wilt sooner than later. Oftentimes this is due to inflation of plant cells that makes then strong and erect does not exist. If the water scarcity prolongs, then definitely the plant will eventually die.

Adapt or Die

Overall, plants will tend to adapt whenever there is water scarcity. They will undergo biochemical, physiological, anatomical, as well as morphological changes over time. In extreme cases, these plants will simply die off and can even be extinct.
In a nut shell, the effects of water scarcity on plants and whether they survive or not can simply be can be attributed to species and variety.

Lessons the California Drought is Teaching America and the World

california drought

As it seems, the drought in California is nowhere near over. There were great expectations that the state’s groundwater and surface supplies would be replenished. However, the hype was all that – just hype.
The rain and snow that fell mostly on the northern parts of the state were merely average. But average is a welcomed result. It is better than nothing. The snowpack is visible again in the Sierra and the water levels in most reservoirs are beginning to rise again. Unfortunately, though, average is not going to solve the drought in California.

Drought is Beyond Being Seasonal

dry earthThe reality of the situation is that the water scarcity in California is not just a seasonal thing. The state is using up more water than the resources can provide. Drought may come and go, that is its nature. There may be some fluctuations on the duration and the frequency but drought ends eventually. And it is this nature that makes people feel a false sense of security when it comes to water supply.

Water Supply Can No Longer Meet the Demands

The worse part of California’s water scarcity is that it has a very productive agricultural industry that is a bottomless pit in terms of its need for water supplies. The demands are more than what the state’s surface water in reservoirs and rivers can supply. Over the years, the water resources have continued to decrease. Over 3 million acre-feet annually is being lost in California’s major basins.
Another reality about the water scarcity is that although the drought will eventually end, even with California’s groundwater and surface supplies, the state will continue to lose water. There is just not enough water to feed the state’s demands.

A Global Phenomenon

This reality is not limited to California alone. There are many states in America that is experiencing this water scarcity already. Most of the regions affected by it are the food-producing regions which includes the southern High Plains. These places utilize more water than what is available annually on renewable terms. This goes the same for other places in the world such as China, India, and the Middle East.

Moving Towards the Extremes

Recently, there are studies that show that even the patterns of rainfall all over the world are also changing. Wet tropical regions are getting all the more wet, and the dry places are getting drier. What this means for the dry places is that the demands continue to increase but the opportunity when it comes to replenishing the water supplies are decreasing. This pattern is now being felt in the U.S., especially in California where it is located in the part of the world that is becoming drier.
yellowstone weather

Takeaway

Eventually, the drought in California will end. However, it is a fact that there are things that will be beyond our control. Dry areas will get drier. The demands for water will still continue to rise. The changing climate will be affecting us all. California now has the opportunity to lead the way in acting quickly in pursuing innovations when it comes to addressing the scarcity in water. There is still hope and we are equipped with technologies and the right governance to manage the resources well and make it last, hopefully, for a long time.