The emergence of flash drought has attracted widespread attention due to its rapid onset. However, little is known about the recent evolution of flash droughts in terms of the speed of onset and the causes of such a rapid onset phase of flash droughts. Here, we present a comprehensive assessment of the onset development of flash droughts and the underlying mechanisms on a global scale. We find that 33.64−46.18% of flash droughts with 5-day onset of drying, and there is a significant increasing trend in the proportion of flash droughts with the 1-pentad onset time globally during the period 2000−2020. Flash droughts do not appear to be occurring more frequently in most global regions, just coming on faster. In addition, atmospheric aridity is likely to create a flash drought-prone environment, and the joint influence of soil moisture depletion and atmospheric aridity further accelerates the rapid onset of flash droughts.